The omega-3 fats are considered to be essential and healthy fats since our bodies cannot produce them. These fats therefore have to be derived from food sources for survival. It is a commonly known fact that fish is the primary dietary source for omega-3 fats. Apart from fish, there are some plants which provide omega-3. In fish, the omega-3 are of two types- the EPA or eicosapentaenoic acid and the DHA or docosahexaenoic acid. Both these fatty acids are necessary for preventing cardiovascular diseases. In plants, the form of omega-3 acid is ALA or alpha-linolenic acid.
What are health benefits of omega-3 fats?
There is strong evidence to suggest that omega-3 fatty acids reduce triglycerides in the blood and lower blood pressure. They can also be used for treating rheumatoid arthritis and depression. These polyunsaturated fats affect your body cell functions and reduce inflammations that can trigger heart problems and blood pressure fluctuations. Fatty acids like omega-3 reside in many foods like certain oils, fish and beans and even sea food. Some important healthy food choices that source omega-3 fats are as follows:
Beans: A cup of beans like navy beans, kidney beans and soybeans offer nearly 1000 milligrams of omega-3 fats. Tofu is also a well known source of omega-3. Genetically modified foods however should not be included in the diet to get your source of omega-3 fats.
Nuts and Seeds: Flaxseeds and walnuts are believed to be excellent dietary choices for omega-3 fats. While a quarter cup of flaxseeds has about 7 grams, a quarter cup of walnuts has approximately 2.3 grams of omega-3 fats.
Vegetables: Spinach is a green leafy vegetable that can be added to salads or sautéed and included in a whole grain pasta meal. Winter squash is another excellent source of omega-3 fats and can be used as a side dish.
Oils: Flaxseed oil when used in preparing salads can boost your omega-3 intake. Likewise, you could also start using soybean oil or canola oil for cooking because these contain ALA which your body can convert to DHA and EPA. When using olive oil, refrain from frying because this damages the omega-3s in it and you will not get the health benefits.
Seafood and Fish: Fish is an excellent source for omega-3 fats and fish like salmon, sardines, halibut, and tuna are the best varieties.
In the past decade there has been a growing emphasis upon eating healthy foods rich in omega-3 fats. This is because there is ample research to prove that both omega-6 and omega-3 are useful for controlling and preventing health problems like acute heart ailments, different forms of cancer like breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer and other health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, bowel diseases, hypertension, arthritis and osteoporosis. Omega-3 is also beneficial for dealing with mental conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. When the body does not get enough omega-3 fats, the brain begins to malfunction. This often leads to behavioral and cognitive disabilities.
It is important to understand that you do not have to take a fixed amount of omega-3 every day; a weekly consumption of about 6-8 grams is more than enough to keep you healthy.
Jessica Robert is a fitness enthusiast who actively blogs on interesting diet and fitness related topics. She is interested in suggesting hassle free dieting methods to her readers. Read her most recent post here: http://thedietcircle.com/nutrisystem
Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications, is clinical editor at Medical Forum Magazine, and is also a regular on radio and television.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma, Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and sits on the board of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases.