Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fats that are found chiefly in fish and fish oils, as well as some plant-based sources, such as nuts and vegetable oils. There are two types of Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, which are EPA (eicosapetaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaeonic acid), and one type found in plant-based sources, which is ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, some studies have shown that increased blood levels of EPA and DHA may be linked to a reduction in irregular heartbeats and fatal heart disease.
Eat fish! Fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Try to eat fish that is high in EPA and DHA two to three times a week, as this has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and related deaths. Fish that are among the best sources include anchovies, bluefish, herring, salmon, sardines, tuna, and lake trout. Not only are the omega-3 fatty acids that these fish provide heart healthy, they are important for brain and body function as well. In addition to being a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, fish is also an excellent source of protein and a source of vitamin D.
Include plant-based omega-3 sources! ALA, which is the form of omega-3 found in plants, has been shown to also reduce the risk of heart disease. ALA can be found in various oils, nuts, seeds and some beans. To incorporate sources of ALA into your diet, try using moderate amounts of vegetable oils, such as canola oil, walnut oil, or flaxseed oil, and add walnuts or ground flaxseed or chia seeds to your cereal, yogurt, salad, or smoothie. Nibbling on nuts or beans, like walnuts or edamame, as a snack is also a great way to incorporate ALA omega-3 fatty acids into your diet.
Although these unsaturated fatty acids are necessary for your health, it is important to recognize that foods containing high amounts of fat are also high in calories. Therefore, stick to appropriate serving sizes, such as 1 ounce of nuts and seeds or 3 ounces of fatty fish.
Try this delicious salmon recipe from Bon Appetit to add some omega-3 fatty acids to your diet!
Spiced Salmon Kebabs
2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 ½ pounds skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 lemons, very thinly sliced into rounds
2 Tbsp olive oil
16 bamboo skewers soaked in water 1 hour
Preparation (25 minutes):
Prepare grill for medium heat. Mix oregano, sesame seeds, cumin, salt and red pepper flakes into a small bowl to combine; set spice mixture aside.
Beginning and ending with salmon, thread salmon and folded lemon slices onto 8 pairs of parallel skewers to make 8 kebabs total. Brush with oil and season with reserved spice mixture.
Grill, turning occasionally, until fish is opaque throughout, 5-8 minutes.
Nutrition information per serving: 390 calories, 22 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 3 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 44 g protein, 580 mg sodium