By Ann Lindemann, Senior Health Writer
Chances are you’ve heard about the mega health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fats, which play a crucial role in cell function, are also helpful in reducing harmful inflammation that can be a harbinger to heart disease. What’s more, omega-3s have also been found to decrease triglyceride levels and blood pressure and may help to prevent fatal heart arrhythmias.
But here’s the rub: your body can’t produce omega-3s. That’s why you’ve got to be diligent about making sure your diet provides plenty of this healthy fat. Some of these eight sources are well known, while others may surprise you.
- Seafood – The Harvard School of Public Health conducted an analysis of 20 studies and found that eating approximately one to two 3-ounce servings of fatty fish a week-salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, or sardines – reduces the risk of dying from heart disease by 36%.
- Oils – Not all oils are created equal. Opt for flaxseed oil or olive oil on salads and consider canola or soybean oil for a nice hit of the omega-3, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is converted by the body (albeit poorly in older folks) into the more functionally important Omega-3s, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
- Beans – An unexpected rich source of omega-3s can be found in many beans, including the kidney, pinto and black varieties.
- Nuts and Seeds – Add a nutty flavor and texture punch to salads, yogurt or oatmeal with walnuts or flaxseed. A small handful of either will tastefully up your omega-3 intake.
- Spinach – Popeye knew his stuff. This tasty and versatile leafy green is as at home in a salad as sautéed and added to your favorite whole-grain pasta dish.
- Winter Squash – This satisfying omega-3 rich veggie makes an interesting side dish.
- Broccoli & Cauliflower – Cruciferous cousins, these two veggies are on your side when it comes to omega-3s.
- Dietary Supplements – Still having trouble getting your full dose of daily omega 3s? You might want to consider taking a supplement, especially if you have heart disease or high triglycerides. To be on the safe side, discuss any new supplement with a trusted health care professional first.