Omega-3s may help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. These healthy fats are being added to everything from eggs to peanut butter. You can also get them naturally in fish, including salmon and tuna.
There are different types of omega-3s: ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).
Your body can turn ALA into DHA and EPA, though not very efficiently (only about 15% of the plant-based ALA can be converted to DHA and EPA in the body). So, many dietitians recommend getting DHA and EPA from supplements. While there's no standard recommendation for how many omega-3s we need, dieticians consider the Adequate Intake (AI) for adults to be 1600 milligrams (mg) for men and 1100 mg for women. You can find roughly 450 mg in a 6-ounce can of tuna and 600 mg in 3 ounces of salmon. Some fortified foods offer 100 mg or more.
Bring this shopping list the next time you go to the supermarket.
Fish: Top Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Look for seafood rich in omega-3s, such as:
- Tuna (freshor light, canned in water)
Dairy and Juices Fortified With Omega-3s
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 foodsthat may have omega-3s added to them. These fats are also naturally found in whole foods like seeds and nuts. When shopping, look for omega-3s in:
- Peanut butter
- Pumpkin seeds
- Pizza, packaged
- Flour tortillas
Fresh Produce With ALA Omega-3s
Vegetables, especially green leafy ones, are good sources of 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 also have fiber and other nutrients, as well as omega-3s.
- Brussels sprouts
Oil With ALA Omega-3s
Oils can be a good source of ALA omega-3s, too, including:
- Canola oil
- Cod liver oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Mustard oil
- Soybean oil
- Walnut oil
Baby Food With Omega-3s
Research suggests that the omega-3 fatty acid DHA may help babies' brains develop, which is why you may find them in:
- Baby cereals
- Infant formula
- Jars of baby food
Other Omega-3-Enhanced Products
You can also find omega-3s in some:
- Children and adult vitamins
- Meal replacement bars
- Protein powders
- Weight loss shakes
As with most nutrients, whole foods trump any enriched, fortified, or processed foods. Omega fatty acids can oxidize if overly processed or allowed to become stale, so fresh is best.
Getting more than 3 grams a day of omega-3s may make bleeding more likely in people taking antiplatelet drugs, such as aspirin. It may also suppress the immune and inflammatory response in those with an immunodeficiency such as HIV/AIDS. But you're not likely to get that much from a typical diet. Talk with your doctor before taking high doses of omega-3 supplements.