© Boris Ryzhkov | Dreamstime.com
Living in the Pacific Northwest where seafood abounds, I have grown up loving fish. My family cooks seafood on a regular basis, whether it is salmon on the barbecue on a summer day, fresh fish tacos for a family get-together, or flaky halibut cooked with capers and parsley for a weeknight treat (see below for recipe). Incorporating fish into your regular diet allows you to take advantage of the incredible health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.
Health benefits of omega 3s
Omega-3 intake has been associated with a wide range of beneficial effects, including:
- Reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke
- Lowering cholesterol and blood pressure
- Protecting against cognitive decline and neurodegeneration
- Improving factors associated with metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes
- Fighting inflammation
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Omega 3s come in three forms: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Fish oil supplements are a great way to boost omega-3 levels. Read more about taking a daily fish oil supplement here. But omega 3s can also be found in a variety of food sources, mainly fish and seafood.
Fish is an excellent source of omega 3s
Salmon, halibut, cod, mackerel, sardines, scallops, shrimp, and other seafood have extremely high levels of EPA and DHA. These two omega 3s offer the most health benefits, so eating fish is a great way to boost your levels of these two fatty acids. When eating fish, however, it is important to purchase wisely, as much of the fish we have access to can be contaminated with mercury or other toxins. For tips on choosing fish low in mercury, read more here.
Plant-based foods with omega 3
Marine sources of omega 3s provide the most benefits – most studies showing the incredible effects of omega 3s come from fish and fish oil. Plants only contain one type of omega-3 fatty acid: ALA. ALA does not have the same benefits of EPA and DHA, and while it is theoretically converted to EPA and DHA in the body, the conversion is inefficient. While marine sources are best, if you are vegetarian and still want to eat whole foods with omega-3 fatty acids, there are numerous options:
- Flax seed
- Canola oil
- Spinach, kale, cabbage, and other green leafy vegetables.
To get you started on a diet rich in foods with omega 3, below you will find some of my favorite recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that pack these healthy fats into your daily meals.
1 C cooked oatmeal, prepared according to package directions
1 T ground flax seed
3 T chopped walnuts
small handful fresh blueberries
- Cook oatmeal according to package directions.
- Mix in flax and walnuts, and sprinkle fresh blueberries on top.
Mixed Green Salad with Sardines
2 C spinach
2 C baby kale
1 C shredded cabbage
¾ C soybeans
½ red onion, thinly sliced
½ C chopped walnuts
1 can sardines in olive oil, cut into bite-sized pieces
Lemon and olive oil dressing (homemade recipe here)
- Combine all of the ingredients except the dressing in a large bowl.
- Pour desired amount of dressing over salad and toss to mix.
Halibut with Capers and Parsley
4-4 oz filets of halibut or sole
Almond flour, for dusting
4 T butter
¼ C capers
2 T sherry vinegar
1 bunch of parsley, chopped
- Dust both sides of the filets in almond flour.
- Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a fry pan over medium-high heat.
- Cook fish in pan until browned on both sides, then remove from pan and set aside.
- Add butter and capers to the pan, and cook until the capers have changed color.
- Add sherry vinegar, and stir in copped parsley. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon sauce over fish, and serve immediately.
Share your experience
What are your favorite foods with omega 3? Share recipes and tips for boosting your omega-3 levels in the comments section below.