Omega 3 fatty acids are essential, unsaturated fatty acids that provide a plethora of health benefits, including the reduction of inflammation and the ability to lower the risk of developing chronic diseases. These include cardiovascular disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega 3’s are also imperative for brain memory and performance. Symptoms of deficiency include fatigue, memory loss, dry skin, depression, and poor circulation. Omega 3 is so vital for proper development that infants who don’t receive adequate amounts from their mothers during pregnancy may experience vision and nerve implications.
What Are The Best Sources Of Omega-3's?
Most people are aware that fish is abundant source of omega 3 fatty acids. The most popular fish sources include mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon. However, fish production is currently at a maximum historical rate, meaning that mass-fish scaling is no longer possible. Luckily, there are other great sources of omega 3 fatty acids that you should be aware of.
1. Chia Seeds
Gram for gram, chia seeds provide more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon. Studies show that eggs from hens fed with chia had the highest omega 3 and alpha-linolenic acid content as compared to hens fed with flaxseed or grapeseed. Choosing eggs or chicken fed with chia seeds is another great way to get more omega 3 in your diet.
2. Flaxseeds (aka Linseed)
Flaxseeds provide the richest source of alpha-linolenic, or ALA, in our diets. Studies suggest that the ingestion of ALA may have a positive effect on the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease. Because of its high ALA content, flaxseed is another great option for getting your omegas while giving fish a break. Sprinkle flaxseeds on your morning oats or use them in yogurt.
3. Green Vegetables
Need another reason to eat your vegetables? Green vegetables, such as brussels sprouts, kale, and spinach, contain a relatively high amount of omega 3 fatty acids in the form of ALA. Similarly, wild berries such as blueberry, cloudberry, and cowberry contain 0.7 grams of fat and 0.25 grams of ALA, which is roughly the same amount found in ALA-rich green vegetables. Other good vegetable sources of omega 3 include mint and watercress.
Walnuts are unique from other nuts because they contain a good source of omega 3 fatty acids. Want to incorporate walnuts into your diet but afraid of weight gain? Studies show that even though walnuts are energy dense they do not cause a gain in body weight when used as a replacement food. So in place of cheese on your salads, try crushed walnuts. To further enhance your omega 3 packed salad, use hemp seed oil as your dressing base. Omega 3 fatty acids oxidize quickly when heated, so be sure to avoid using these oils to cook with.
Omega 3s are crucial to good health. But that doesn't mean salmon needs to be on the menu everyday. All four of these ingredients go brilliantly into green smoothies. And the green veggie walnut combo make a brilliant salad.
image credit: Nutra Ingredients