6 Ways To Eat More Omega-3 Fats

CoachMel Healthy Eating 15 Comments

Omega-3 fatty acids are the darling of the nutrition world. What I love most is that they really are beneficial to your health — there’s no “maybe” or “perhaps”… they are simply good for you!

These healthy fats can improve heart health, lower high blood pressure, reduce blood clotting in the arteries, reduce inflammation, help stiffening joints, and improve symptoms of depression. And that’s only some of the goodness.

Here in the UK, however, research suggests four in five people don’t eat enough omega-3s. And, apparently the average American adult gets less than 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids per day.

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But, what are the recommendations for daily omega-3 fats?

At least 2% of our total daily calories should come from omega-3 fats. In other words, for someone eating a 2,000 calorie diet, they should eat at least 2 grams of omega-3 fats per day.

So, how can you make sure you are getting enough of these super healthy fats?

6 Easy Ways to Eat More Omega-3 Fats

1. Nuts and Seeds

Flaxseeds and walnuts are an excellent way to get more omega-3 into your diet. One-quarter cup of flaxseeds have around 7 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, while one-quarter cup of walnuts contains around 2 grams.

An easy way to add more omega-3s to your diet is to top your regular bowl of oatmeal with some ground flaxseeds, and then snack on a handful of walnuts later in the day.

Other choices include pumpkin seeds and pine nuts — although these have very small amounts of omega-3 per serving, they are still a healthy option.

2. Beans

Beans are one of my top healthy foods to include in your diet regularly. And, here’s another reason to eat them regularly.

One cup of soybeans, navy beans, or kidney beans provides up to 1.0 gram of omega-3s. A serving of tofu (4 ounces) will also give you around 0.4 grams of omega-3s, so that is also a good, healthy option.

3. Fish

Fish is the obvious food for boosting your omega-3 levels, giving you around 2 grams of omega-3s for a 4 ounce serving of oily fish.

When cooking your fish, however, stay away from frying it, as this can alter the omega-3 fats. One study compared consumption of fried fish versus non-fried fish in relation to atherosclerosis risk. Surprisingly, they found that eating fried fish offered no health protection, even when the fish contained omega-3 fats.

Good choices include salmon, halibut, sardines, tuna, prawns, and mollusks.

4. Oils

Sunflower oil is so widely used these days in food manufacturing that most people have a higher intake of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in their diets.

This imbalance has the potential to restrict the conversion of omega-3 fats in your body, which is undesirable. The ideal balance is thought to be around three to four parts omega-6, to one of omega-3.

Oils to use regularly include, flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybean oil, walnut oil, wheatgerm oil, even extra virgin olive oil has smaller amounts of omega-3s.

When purchasing seed oils, go for cold pressed varieties, and don’t use flaxseed, olive or walnut oil in cooking, as they don’t withstand high temperatures well. These oils are, however, excellent choices for salad dressings, etc.

5. Fruit and Vegetables

Most people associate fish and oils with omega-3 fats, but don’t know that fruits and vegetables are also beneficial for providing smaller amounts of omega-3 fats.

Some of the best options include leafy green vegetables like spinach, Chinese cabbage, and collard greens, but also squash, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.

For fruit, avocado, papaya, and even cantaloupe melon are good choices.

6. Other

Eggs from chickens fed 10 to 20 percent flaxseed contain omega-3s — just check the label first, as not all eggs contain these fats.

Some foods have also been fortified by manufacturers, such as bread and fruit juice. Again, it will be marked on the label if the product contains omega-3

Another option is spirulina.

What about omega-3 supplements?
As with most nutrients, you are much better to get them directly from a food source, rather than popping a pill.

Okay, here a quick run down of some of the foods you should try to eat regularly to boost your omega-3 intake:

  • Fish such as albacore tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, lake trout
  • Oils such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil and walnut oil
  • Nuts such as walnuts
  • Soy nuts
  • Seeds such as flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds
  • Beans such as kidney beans, soybeans and navy beans
  • Tofu
  • Eggs from chickens fed flax and greens
  • Summer and winter squash
  • Leafy greens and coniferous vegetables

Flaxseed Recipe

Here is a fun recipe you could begin using, if you aren’t sure what to do with flaxseeds. Each portion contains 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids.

Mocha-ccino Freeze
From The Flax Cookbook by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD (edited from here)

Ingredients:
1 cup low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt
1/4 cup low-fat milk
1/4 cup strong decaf coffee, chilled (use caffeinated if you prefer)
1 cup ice cubes
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to your blender or food processor.
  2. Blend on highest speed until smooth (about 10 seconds). Scrape sides of blender, and blend again for five more seconds.
  3. Pour into two glasses and enjoy!
  4. Yield: 2 smoothies.

Nutritional Information: 157 calories, 7 grams protein, 4.5 grams fat (1.3 saturated fat, 1 grams monounsaturated fat, 1.9 grams polyunsaturated fat),  2.3 grams fiber. (Omega-3 fatty acids = 1.5 grams, omega-6 fatty acids = 0.4 gram.)

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Comments 15

  1. Stan Mrak

    The most beneficial types of omega 3’s are EPA and DHA, found in fish. The type of omega 3 found in vegetarian sources is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Your body has to convert this ALA into EPA and DHA, and it can only do this at about a ten percent efficiency. Therefore, you can’t expect to get as much of the benefits of omega 3 fats that you would get from a serving of salmon or a fish oil omega 3 supplement.
    .-= Stan Mrak´s last blog ..Jan 21- The Benefits of Astaxanthin- Natures Strongest Antioxidant =-.

  2. Nicoleta

    Nice article, i like it, especialy cause i am pregnant and i was worry cause since the first week i could’n eat anymore fish, but it seems there are so much more alternatives.

  3. Robert Peil

    Hi Melanie,

    I share your passion for Omega 3 as well!
    You have a nice and informative blog here,
    and I do support your advice that Omega 3
    from a plant source is preferred. (The ALA type)

    Regarding Stan’s comment above:

    1) ALA is the only Omega 3 type that passes the umbilical cord to the fetus in a significant amount. Omega 3 is essential for the cognitive development of the fetus during pregnancy.

    2) ALA is the only Omega 3 type that passes through breast milk in a significant amount. Baby formulas that replace breast milk must have the ALA type of Omega 3 present, and not of the EPA or DHA type.

    3) The DHA type is essential for cognitive and brain development. The body converts ALA to the DHA at a level of 3% – 5%. The half life of the DHA in the brain is 2.5 years. The absorption rate of DHA as an essential nutrient for the brain is 3.8 mg a day.

    4) Therefore the conversion levels of ALA to DHA in the body may seem small, but the there is a new plant source (even better than flax seed) that supplies much more ALA than needed for this process, thus providing more than enough DHA required for proper functioning and development of the brain.

    5) Professor Michael Crawford, Director of the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition at the London Metropolitan University, states that large amounts of EPA can be toxic for the body.

    6) Consumption of fish oil at recommended dosages provides large – maybe to large – amounts of EPA to the body. Consumption of Omega 3 from a vegetal source guarantees only the required amount of EPA is provided to the body, as it is converted on demand from the ALA vegetal form.

    7) Recent studies have completely invalidated the claims that the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA in the body wasn’t meeting the demands the body required (an incorrect argument in favor of using fish oil).

    So, yes Melanie – the facts support what you recommended all along:
    Get Omega 3 from fresh vegetal source! Another fact to support this is that the Omega 3 molecule is very sensitive to oxidation (making it rancid) by slight heat or exposure to light.

    That explains why Omega 3 in fried fish lost its effect.

    Again, very good post Melanie!

    Robert

    P.S. I get this notice below from your CommentLuv wordpress plugin:

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  4. Alex@spa in kl

    Great post & thanks for sharing this wonderful information on the Omega-3 fatty acids. I was really not aware that Sunflower oil so rich in omega-6 to omega-3 fats. I think I should start using it soon.

  5. Albert Lim@florist in kl

    Very informative post indeed. Thanks for sharing this great information on Omega-3 Fats. I think it is indeed an easy way to add more omega-3s to our dietby topping up our regular bowl of oatmeal with some ground flaxseeds, and then snack on a handful of walnuts later in the day. Great tips & thanks for the same.

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