7 Super Sources of Omega 3s

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7 Super Sources of Omega 3's

Written by Nicole Nichols, Health Educator

Omega-3 fatty acids are all the rage these days. Why? Because extensive research indicates that these heart-healthy fats may play a key role in keeping our brains and bodies healthy. A nutritious diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce inflammation, prevent heart disease and arthritis, positively impact behavior and cognitive function, and even help you look better (thanks to its skin enhancing properties).

There are actually three types of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are collectively referred to as omega 3s. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is found in plant sources, while DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are found in fish and shellfish. Include the following foods in your diet to benefit from the amazing health-enhancing properties of all types of omega 3s.

Flaxseed

Flaxseed is the richest source of ALA. Meet your omega 3 needs with 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed (3,800 mg of omega 3s). Learn more about storing and using flaxseed. Don't stop with this seed! Pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds also contain ALA.

Salmon

This coldwater fish contains between 900 and 1,800 mg of DHA and EPA per 3-oz serving. While salmon is the most talked about source of omega 3s, the same size serving of lake trout can contain more (1,700 mg), while herring, halibut and flounder are also good sources of omega 3s. Aim for 2 servings (3-4 ounces cooked portion) of fish weekly. Learn more about fish selection and safety.

Enriched Eggs

Omega 3-enriched eggs contain all three types of omega-3 fatty acids, thanks to adding flaxseed or algae to the diets of egg-producing hens. These specialty eggs contain about 60-150 milligrams of omega 3s per egg. That may seem like a small amount compared to these other sources, but it's still three times the omega 3s you'd find in ordinary eggs, making enriched eggs another convenient way to get your omega 3s if you're not a fish eater. Up to 4 of these eggs weekly can easily fit into your heart-healthy lifestyle, according to the American Heart Association. Learn more about the nutrition profile of eggs.

Walnuts

Another excellent source of ALA (2,600 mg in 1 oz), walnuts can be sprinkled on salads, cereal, oatmeal and added to your favorite baked goods. Other nuts that contain omega 3s include pecans and butternuts (also called white walnuts).

Soybeans

You don't often hear about this plant source of omega 3s, but one serving of cooked soybeans contains more omega 3s (in the form of ALA) than some coldwater fish! Tofu, which is made from soybeans, contains omega 3s, too, but only about one-third as much as the whole cooked beans do. Add them to casseroles, soups, burritos or any other recipe that normally calls for beans.

Sardines

This tiny fish are rich in DHA and EPA, and less expensive than other types of fish. Add them to sandwiches, pizzas, salads or as a topping for snack crackers or bread. Since canned sardines are higher in sodium, balance out your meal with low sodium fruits and veggies.

Canola Oil

Less expensive than olive oil, canola oil can also withstand higher cooker temperatures. This heart-healthy oil contains 1,300 mg of omega 3s per tablespoon (more than olive oil), but both make excellent choices for increasing your consumption of the omega 3 ALA.

Sources
How can I get more omega 3 fatty acids in my daily meals? from World's Healthiest Foods.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids, from World's Healthiest Foods.

This content has been reviewed and approved by Becky Hand, MS, licensed and registered dietitian.

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Member Comments on this Slideshow

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JANNEBARN

10/12/2010 10:23:29 AM

JANNEBARN's SparkPage
I agree that canola oil is NOT a healthy option. It is a genetically modified product.

JOJOSZENT

10/12/2010 10:20:14 AM

JOJOSZENT's SparkPage
Great information, Thanks

HULACRICKET

10/12/2010 10:16:59 AM

HULACRICKET's SparkPage
Not only did I learn something from the article but from the comments. Thanks.

ROBBIEJO2

10/12/2010 9:38:45 AM

Please be aware that consumption of hemp seed will cause a positive drug test.

THEESLADY

10/12/2010 9:30:16 AM

Really enlightening. Thank you for sharing.

SPRING1973

10/12/2010 9:13:32 AM

SPRING1973's SparkPage
Funny how different things come together at the same time. I just started taking fish oil supplements, not for heart heatlh but to help stabilize my depression. A study at a Massachusetts university (can't remember the name- I was in the car when I heard about this on public radio), looks at the connection between Omega-3's and good brain health. Evidently, although the body can produce most of the nutrients the brain needs for healthy functioning, Omega-3's are the one thing it can't produce. Although it was small (70 participants), the "fish oil" group showed marked improvement in their depressive symptoms as opposed to the "olive oil" control group, as well as a significant increase in seratonin levels in their brains.. All of the participants had been diagnosed with depression, and none were able or willing to take anti-depressant medications. I'm a longtime veteran of anti-depressants (16 years come December) after chronic depressive episodes starting when I was 8. Lately, I've noticed that my meds aren't keeping me on such an even keel; I have a few weeks of feeling good, followed by a decline & a week or two of feeling down. The pattern reminds me of bi-polar, although my "feeling good" stage doesn't come close to the clinical criteria for a manic episode. Anyway, I HATE fish- never eat it. I do try to get the enhanced eggs they talk about, but haven't for a while. So, I started taking fish oil a few days ago- two a day to make up at least 1000 mg of omega-3's. In the study, improvement was shown after about 3 weeks of the regimen. I'm hoping that this, combined with regular exercise, will really help my symptoms. Beware, though- a 1000 mg capsule may only contain 300 mg of the omega-3's, so shop smart.

WRECKAGE

10/12/2010 9:00:06 AM

WRECKAGE's SparkPage
Actually, the "evil canola oil" myth has been debunked. You can check out Snopes.com http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/canol
a.asp, for example. There are other sites that have sourced information about canola oil, as well.

DACSAC

10/12/2010 8:58:33 AM

I found that I have an allergic reaction with fish oil. I have since found Members Mark Flaxseed oil at Sams. I take 2 capsules/day. Each capsule is only 15g. An easy way to get Omega 3 when fish or fish oil isn't an option.

APRIDGEN

10/12/2010 8:42:45 AM

APRIDGEN's SparkPage
You can know get the Omega 3 in gummie vitamins for kids or adults....they are pretty good...tart lemonade flavors that don't have any fishy flavor. My kids even like them!!

JBROUS82

10/12/2010 8:32:28 AM

JBROUS82's SparkPage
while flaxseeds are a fantastic source of ALA omega-3, check out Chia Seeds (or a higher quality brand called Salba). It has tons of ALA, and more importantly are two things: 1) chia doesnt have to be ground in order for our bodies to use them and 2) the ALA content in chia is converted to DHA more so than from flax.

just another option for all of us:)

MISSYRAGAN

10/12/2010 8:22:24 AM

If you store your fish oil in the freezer, and take it at night, it stops the taste and belching.

MTCASTLE

10/12/2010 7:38:37 AM

In 1999 an e-mail was widely circulated that falsely claimed that canola oil was harmful to human health[citation needed] . This is now considered an email hoax making unsubstantiated claims. Reputable research studies confirm that canola oil is a safe and healthy choice

VANWALL7

10/12/2010 7:29:15 AM

I just changed my Omega 3 regime. Walmart has Milled Golden Flaxseed by Wild Roots. It's the golden grounded flaxseed and very nutty. I shake up two tablespoons in Carrot juice every morning and drink it when I take my vitamins. No burping the oily tablets; but the same benefits as the oil and just 1 Tabsp. has 3800 mg of ALNA, the primary Omega 3 this is 10 times as much as fish oil without the bad taste or high cholesterol. Try it! You'll like it!

LILLIAN1961

10/12/2010 6:58:10 AM

LILLIAN1961's SparkPage
Sorry, but canola oil is NOT a healthy option. It is processed in the laboratory and not a natural food that God made. It comes from the rapeseed plant (mustard family), which was used to make poisonous gasses in WW2. This is also a genetically engineered plant, the name comes from "Canadian oil." Rapeseed is a poison and is thought to be connected with mad cow disease.
Your best bets are olive oil (number one), sesame oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, coconut oil or good old fashioned butter! Just remember that fats contain calories and you have to account for them!

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