Our body is equipped to make most of the fat we need, but for omega-3 fats this is not the case. Omega-3 fats are considered essential because our body cannot make them. Getting these fats from food or seeking a supplement if you cannot get what you need from food is an important step in your wellness journey.
What are omega-3s?
- Describing omega-3 fats requires a few, barely pronounceable terms but we want you to have this information as you find ways to get these useful fats into your daily eating pattern.
- There are three main omega-3 fats:
- DHA — docosahexaenoic acid
- EPA — eicosapentaenoic acid
- ALA — alpha-linolenic acid
- ALA is found primarily in plants
- EPA and DHA are found primarily in fish and seafood
- Although still essential, ALA is more difficult for our body to use — eating foods with EPA and DHA is the best way to raise omega-3 fats in our blood.
Why are omega-3s so special?
- Necessary for the framework of our cells, specifically, the wall of the cell (membrane) and communication between our cells
- Serve as the first ingredient for making hormones that participate in blood clotting and flow
- Evolving research links omega-3s with inflammation and emotional health
- May support your heart health by:
How can I get enough omega-3s?
- Eat at least two servings of fish or seafood each week, if your eating style allows it
- Salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies, trout, and mussels are all good choices
- Top your leafy greens or whole grain bowl with salmon
- Try lox for breakfast
- Make a quick snack by topping cucumber slices with tuna mixed with Greek yogurt and your favorite spices — add hot sauce if you like a kick.
- Have fun trying new recipes
- If you’re not a fan of fish and seafood:
- Add seaweed to your salad or toast nori sheets for a crunchy snack
- Add chlorella or spirulina powders to your smoothie or breakfast porridge/cereal
- Look for foods fortified with DHA and/or EPA including eggs, milk, and non-dairy milk alternatives
- Flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, edamame, spreads with ALA, canola oil, and flaxseed oil are all good choices to get more ALA in your eating pattern
- If you cannot get enough EPA and DHA in your food, consider adding a daily supplement with at least 250 mg EPA and/or DHA, or more depending on your wellness needs — contact your healthcare provider for more information.
Finding ways to get more omega-3 fats into your eating pattern will ensure you have what you need to help your heart, blood vessels, lungs, and immune system be at their best.