Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids: They are necessary for human health but the body can’t make them -- you have to get them through food. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development. They have also become popular because they may reduce the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon) at least 2 times a week.
Omega-3 fatty acids have numerous health benefit claims, including lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reducing coronary heart disease, and fighting memory loss. The FDA recommends that people consume at least 2.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day from food.
Much of the omega-3 publicity you've heard has probably been focused on dietary supplements rather than food. In this profile, we'll provide you with a fresh look at omega-3s from the perspective of food and the best ways to balance your meal plan for strong omega-3 support.
Here are ways through which you can incorporate Omega-3 Fatty acids in your daily diet:
1. Flaxseeds and Walnuts
One-quarter cup of flaxseeds contains about 6.3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids while one-quarter cup of walnuts contains about 2.7 grams. In either case, the amount is pretty substantial. Therefore by combining one-quarter cup of walnuts with a tablespoon of flaxseeds, you will add close to the recommended 4 grams of omega-3 fats to your diet.
You can sprinkle flaxseed onto your morning cereal or add to yogurt for a hearty crunch.
One cup's worth of soybeans, navy beans, or kidney beans provides between 200 and 1,000 milligrams of omega-3s (0.2 to 1.0 grams). A four-ounce serving of tofu will provide over 0.6 grams of omega-3s.
Incorporating beans in your meals is a great way to go.
3. Fish, Winter Squash and Olive Oil
Eating fish and seafood such as salmon, halibut, tuna and scallops a few times a week is an easy way to increase your omega-3 intake. Plus you'll get all of the other nutritional benefits that these foods offer.
In the case of fish, you'll get about 1.3 grams from every 4 ounce serving of Chinook salmon and over 1.4 grams from sardines. A cup of this winter squash will provide you almost 0.2 grams. For extra virgin olive oil, the amount of omega 3s per ounce is about 0.1 grams.
It contains 0.7grams of Omega-3 in every 180 grams.
Serve up this leafy green in a salad, or sauté it and add it to whole-grain pasta dish. Add layers of spinach to your next lasagna recipe.
5. Broccoli and Cauliflower
These cruciferous veggies are on your side when it comes to omega-3s. Dark leafy greens are not massive sources of fat in any form; however, their ratio favors omega-3, so this is yet again one more reason to get that daily intake of roughage.
This is especially important for vegetarians.
6. Dairy products
Choose dairy foods that are enriched with omega-3 fats like enriched eggs, milk or yogurt.
7. Dietary supplements
If you don't get enough of any of these sources of omega-3, you might want to consider taking a supplement, especially if you have heart disease or high triglycerides. In this case however talk to a registered dietitian or doctor for recommendations especially if you are under any of these medications:
• Blood thinning medications e.g. aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and clopedigrel (Plavix).
• Diabetes medications e.g.Glipizide, Glyburide, Metformin,and insulin
• Cyclosporine -Cyclosporine is a medication given to people with organ transplants. Taking omega-3 fatty acids during cyclosporine (Sandimmune) therapy may reduce toxic side effects, such as high blood pressure and kidney damage, associated with this medication.
• Etretinate and topical steroidsAdding omega-3 fatty acids (specifically EPA) to the drug therapy etretinate (Tegison) and topical corticosteroids may improve symptoms of psoriasis.
• Cholesterol-lowering medications e.g. Atorvastatin (Liptor), Lovastatin (Mevacor), Simvastatin (Zocor)
• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Omega-3 Fatty acids aids in fighting or preventing the following diseases:
• Cardiovascular disease (prevention in high risk individuals)
• High cholesterol
• Alzheimer's disease
• Cognitive problems in aging
• Parkinson's disease
• Multiple sclerosis
• Excessive blood clotting
• Brain/nervous system support
• Pregnancy / lactation
• Depression, including post-partum depression (prevention)
• PMS (flaxseed only)
• Fibrocystic breast disease (flaxseed only)
• Hot flashes (flaxseed only)
Top Health Benefits of Omega 3 You Should Not Miss
Omega-3 concentrations are highest in the brain and nervous system. The fatty acids are necessary for optimal functioning of the neurons, protect cells, decrease cell death and improve nerve transmission. Emerging research indicates omega-3 and Aniracetum which is the main ingredient of Nootrobrain may boost levels of the brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine.
Take them today not only for the health benefits, but also to save yourself from many ailments that result from their deficiencies in the body.