Omega-3 foods are great for health.
They belong to a broad group of fats called polyunsaturated fats,
The simplest omega 3 foods are called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an important fatty acid that our body can’t make from scratch.
We can take ALA and then transform it into Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), these contain more double bonds and are more complicated then ALA.
Many studies show the significant health benefits of these omega 3 foods, supporting many of our body’s systems and reducing the risk of many chronic health diseases.
So without question, our bodies require ALA, EPA, and DHA to stay healthy, and we need to consume foods rich in alpha-linolenic acids because our bodies lack the ability to synthesise it.
How much omega-3 is right?
The two types of Omega-3 – long and short-chain fatty acids, EPA, and DPA, are required for health.
Oily fish is the most important source of omega-3s; generally, it works on the principle that the colder the water – the more omega-3 is to be found in the fish.
The recommended intake is roughly two 75-gram servings of cold-water fish per week. The highest concentration of omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA, are found in the following cold-water fish:
- Salmon – 4,123 mg per serving
- Sardines 2250 mg
- Caviar 1000 mg
- Anchovies 950 mg
- Herring 905 mg
- Oysters 370 mg
Typically, a 100 gram serving of mackerel will give you almost 2.5 grams of combined DHA and EPA. Other fish and seafood such as halibut, scallops, and shrimp contain smaller amounts.
Cod liver oil
As the name implies, it is the oil that is extracted from the codfish liver.
Cod liver is more of a supplement than food but requires its own special mention here because of its high levels of omega 3 at 2,682 mg per serving.
This oil is high in omega-3 fats and contains important vitamins like D and A – a single tbs alone provides 170% and 453% of the RDIs respectively. One tablespoon will satisfy your requirements for three important nutrients.
We don’t recommend taking more than one tablespoon at a time, as too much vitamin A can be harmful.
These are incredibly nutritious — they’re rich in manganese, selenium, magnesium, and a few other nutrients.
A 28 gram or 1-ounce serving of chia seeds contains 5 grams of protein, including all of the eight essential amino acids, required by the body.
Omega-3 content: 5,060 mg per ounce (28 grams)
These seeds are by far the richest whole-food source of the omega 3 fat alpha-linolenic acid. Because of this, flaxseed oil is often used as an omega-3 supplement.
Omega-3 content: 2,350 mg per tablespoon (10 grams) of the whole flaxseed, make sure it is ground flax as the whole flax will pass through the body. Or 7,250 mg per tablespoon (13 grams) can be taken of the flax oil.
Walnuts are extremely rich omega 3 foods; they contain high amounts of fibre, copper, and vitamin E.
Omega-3 content: roughly 15 walnut halves equals 2,570 mg per ounce (28 grams).
Other Omega 3 foods
- soy nuts
- brussels sprouts
The naked truth
Once you start to take your essential fatty acids, your body gets to work converting the short-chain fatty acids into long ones.
Interestingly, because all the fatty acids are competing for the same enzymes, if our body has too much Omega 6 in the diet, which a western diet often has, not much of the ALA actually gets converted.
This means that if you are not eating enough fish in your diet, you need to try to cut down on sources of Omega-6’s such as cakes, biscuits, margarine, and certain oils like corn oil.