Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” So said Hippocrates, considered the father of modern medicine. Health professionals say that food has the power to harm or to heal. Excessive consumption of dairy and meat products as well as foods high in trans fats, saturated fats, and sugar and salt can send our health into a downward spiral. On the other hand, a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, fibers, fish and lean cuts of meat can place us on the pathway to wellness.

Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential for human growth and development. They are necessary for our well-being, but the body can’t manufacture them. We have to get them through the food we eat. Scientists say omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines and halibut and some plants and nut oils to a lesser degree. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), it is believed that omega-3s play a crucial role in brain function and cardiovascular fitness. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times per week, and if you are unable to meet that dietary intake, they say you can substitute a good quality fish oil supplement.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids can lower the risk of certain diseases
  • Are found in fatty fish and in certain nuts and plants
  • Promote wellness and heart-healthy benefits
  • Quality fish oil supplements are rich in essential omega-3s
What are the benefits of consuming omega-3 fatty acids?

Fish oil has been around for centuries and doctors have long studied the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids contained therein. Research shows that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the two most beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, can reduce inflammation and may help lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis.1

What foods besides fish contain beneficial omega-3 fatty acids?

When people think of omega-3 fatty acids, fish often comes to mind. But there are other food sources that are rich in omega-3s that you might not be aware of. Although not as well known as DHA and EPA, alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, is an omega-3 fatty acid that is mainly found in vegetable products. The body can convert alpha-linolenic acid into EPA and DHA. Alpha-linolenic acid has been used to treat migraines, depression, atherosclerosis, colitis and psoriasis and eczema. Nut and oil sources of ALA include flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybeans, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil, tofu, walnuts and walnut oil.2

If you’re looking for foods a little more substantial than those listed above, ALA can also be found in the following: bread, kale, cereal, parsley, oats, peanut butter, spinach, pasta, avocadoes, flour tortillas and Brussels sprouts. Food manufacturers have caught onto the omega-3 craze and are now fortifying their products with essential fatty acids. Just read the labels on such items as eggs, milk, juice, soy milk, margarine and yogurt.

Consuming fresh, organic fruits and vegetables is a big step toward optimal health. Not everyone can afford to eat all-natural foods, which can drive up the cost of your grocery bill. Even though fish is considered a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, not everyone likes the taste of salmon or tuna or has the time and energy to prepare the recommended daily allowance of these foods. It’s also difficult to get the correct balance of DHA and EPA from our diet for the maximum results, which is why many people are deficient in these fatty acids. Medical professionals say symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression and poor circulation.3

When it comes to omega-3s, are plant-derived sources just as effective as those supplements that come from fish? Many scientists and doctors have debated whether alpha-linolenic acid is as useful as docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid for cardiovascular, joint and vision health. It is believed that when people get their omega-3s from ALA-rich plant sources like flax seeds or walnuts, the body converts ALA into primarily EPA and only a little bit of DHA. This means the consumer may not get an ideal ratio of EPA and DHA.4

OmegaMx, a highly concentrated fish oil softgel, delivers the maximum strength of EPA and DHA and features enteric coating to ensure no unpleasant aftertaste.

You can still write out a shopping list, head down to the grocery store and stock up on the items listed above that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. They’re loaded with nutrients, low on the food chain and they’re better for your body than a diet high in saturated fats and sugar. Consider supplementing these foods with high quality fish oil supplements. They’re regarded as safe and effective, and there are no pots and pans to wash after you take them. Your body – and your budget – will thank you.

References

  1. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/omega-3-000316.htm
  2. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/alpha-linolenic-000284.htm
  3. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/omega-3-000316.htm
  4. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/diet-fitness/articles/2009/04/08/fish-oil-supplements-epa-dha-and-ala-does-your-omega-3-source-matter?page=2
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