Your Omega-3 Family Shopping List
You can hardly go to the supermarket without coming across dozens of whole and fortified functional foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
More research now shows that omega-3s lower the risk of heart disease and may also help depression, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. It's no wonder that omega-3s have become a hot nutrition trend.
These healthy fats are being added to everything from eggs to peanut butter. You can also get them naturally in a can of salmon or tuna, or from fresh, oily fish.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Which Type Is Best?
Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of three fats: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
Once eaten, the body turns ALA into DHA and EPA, though not very efficiently -- some estimates say the conversion is as low as 5%. Thus, many dietitians recommend we focus most of our efforts on consuming DHA and EPA fatty acids.
While there's no standard recommendation yet for how many omega-3s we need, suggestions range between 500 to 1,000 mg daily. You can find over 500 mg in a tin of tuna or a few ounces of salmon. Some fortified foods offer 100 mg or more.
Shopping for Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Ready to get more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet? We've put together this quick shopping list to take along the next time you go to the supermarket.
Fish: Top Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Seafood is a great source for DHA and EPA omega-3s, both essential for healthy hearts and brains. Look for seafood rich in omega-3s, such as:
- Tuna (fresh)
The Cold Case: Fortified Dairy, Juices
Functional foods are defined as any food that provides health benefits beyond basic nutrition. These days, supermarkets are brimming with foods enhanced with omega-3s, from fortified juice to eggs produced by chickens fed omega-3s in their grain. You'll likely find the following foods fortified with omega-3 fatty acids:
- Soy milk
Grains and Nuts With Omega-3s
Bread and pasta are some of the foods most commonly enriched with omega-3s. You'll also find them in whole foods like seeds and nuts. When shopping, look for omega-3s in:
- Crunchy Oats
- Peanut butter
- Pumpkin seeds
- Pizza, packaged
- Flour tortillas
Fresh Produce With ALA Omega-3s
Vegetables, especially green leafy ones, are rich in ALA, one form of omega-3 fatty acids. Although ALA isn't as powerful as the other omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, these vegetables offer a host of benefits, from fiber to antioxidants, in addition to omega-3.
- Brussels sprouts
Oil With ALA Omega-3s
Oils can be a good source of ALA omega-3s, too, including:
- Rapeseed oil
- Cod liver oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Mustard oil
- Soybean oil
- Walnut oil