Want a Healthy Heart and Brain? Eat More Omega-3 FatsOct 23, 2022
Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA, ALA) are essential fats needed for a healthy body. You can only get them from your diet and, while we should all strive to get our nutrients from food versus supplements, most of us don’t even come close to eating enough omega-3-rich foods!
Why are omega-3's so important?
Getting an adequate amount of omega-3 fats each day can help you:
- Lower triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a form of fat in your blood that when elevated, increase your risk for heart disease!
- Boost heart health. Omega-3’s appear to lower the overall risk of death from heart disease. Eating just two 4-ounce servings of fish each week seems to significantly lower the risk of stroke. Bonus!
- Ease pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have found fish oil supplements can reduce the stiffness and joint pain experienced by those suffering from the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis.
- Reduce depression. Researchers discovered lower levels of depression in those populations eating higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Feeling blue? Go fish!
- Manage symptoms of ADHD. Some studies show improved cognitive function and reduced symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in those people taking fish oil supplements.
- Enjoy a “smarter” brain. DHA happens to be the main structural component in your brain, so it makes sense that a diet rich in DHA makes for a higher-functioning noggin!
Food sources of omega-3 fats
Food sources of DHA and EPA (the most crucial ones) are:
- Mackerel: toss a can of King Oscar Mackerel on top of your salad for a quick meal!
- Wild salmon: Wild Planet canned salmon mixed with Primal Kitchen mayonnaise makes for a satisfying lunch. Serve with raw veggies for extra vitamins and minerals!
Almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are rich in the omega-3 fat ALA. It's important to keep in mind that ALA is only partially converted into DHA and EPA, so you’ll want to choose more of the above fish for real benefit!
How much omega-3 do you need to benefit?
For healthy adults the recommendations are 250–500 mg of combined EPA and DHA daily. This can be achieved by eating two 4-ounce servings of fatty fish per week or through supplementation.
I adore salmon and enjoy it at least twice a week, so getting plenty of these anti-inflammatory fats aren't a problem for me. But what if you don't like fish, are allergic, or follow a vegetarian/vegan diet? In these cases, supplementation is key.
Four quality omega-3 supplements
Generally speaking, you have two choices when it comes to supplementing with omega-3's: algae-based and fish-based.
Here are four brands that I recommend:
Nutritional Roots Omega-3 DHA (vegan)
A doctor-formulated, high quality algae-based supplement with 225 mg of DHA per serving and no fishy smell or taste. They send their products to an ISO Certified Lab for additional analysis.
Nordic Naturals Algae Omega (vegan)
Made from sustainably sourced microalgae, this supplement is non-GMO and third-party tested, surpassing the strictest international standards for purity and freshness. Each serving offers 585 mg of DHA and EPA.
Third party tested through NSF, this non-GMO and sustainably harvested fish oil comes from 100% wild Alaskan salmon. Not one additional fish needs to be caught for Wholemega because it's pressed from the nutritious trim of salmon already caught for fine restaurants and retail stores. Each serving provides 400 mg of DHA and EPA.
Delivers 1100 mg of DHA and EPA per two softgel-serving. Made exclusively from 100% wild-caught sardines and anchovies.
The bottom line:
Eat more fatty fish! If you don’t care for fish, eat more ALA-rich foods like flaxseeds and walnuts. But to get the benefits of DHA and EPA you’ll want to take a supplement—just be sure to check with your doctor first!
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