Let’s face it, most Americans do not get enough omega-3 fats in their diet. Omega-3 fats are a type of unsaturated fat that is essential in the diet, meaning we must obtain it from food sources.
The recommendation is to eat at least two servings, or two 4 oz. portions, of fatty fish per week. Certain plant-based foods and omega-3 supplements may also be beneficial, but research suggests more health benefits come from eating fish.
Fish high in omega-3 fats include:
• Albacore tuna
• Lake trout
Plant-based foods high in omega-3s include:
• Flax oil and seeds
• Soybeans (edamame, tofu, tempeh)
• Chia seeds
• Hemp seeds
Many studies have shown heart-health benefits related to omega-3 fats. Benefits include:
• Reduction in blood pressure
• Reduction in triglycerides levels
• Reduction in blood clotting
• Reduction in the risk of stroke and heart failure
• Decrease in irregular heart beats
Research suggests eating foods high in omega-3 fats may also protect against cancer, reduce inflammation in those with rheumatoid arthritis and may also improve symptoms of depression and other mental health disorders. Research continues to understand all the benefits of omega-3s.
The next time you head to the grocery store, pick up some salmon, tuna or sardines to try out! If you are a vegetarian or vegan or allergic to fish, stock up on plant-based foods or talk to your doctor about supplements.
Bridgette Bostic, R.D.N., is the community nutrition educator in the Tevis Center for Wellness.