Omega 3's and Why They're Important
Omega 3’s are a type of fat that get a lot of buzz in the nutrition world, and for good reason:
Regular intake of this type of fat is associated with many benefits, including a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, and they are also important in infant health and development, from conception through early childhood.
Omega 3’s come in three different varieties, which come from different sources. These are shown in the image below:
Most Americans are getting adequate amounts of the ALA type of Omega 3, but are missing out on getting enough DHA and EPA.
Because ALA can be converted into DHA and EPA, it was previously thought that simply consuming adequate amounts of ALA was enough to meet all Omega 3 needs. However, more recent research indicates that this conversion process is not very efficient, meaning that it is most likely best to consume DHA and EPA directly from food sources.
While the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans does not include recommendations for Omega 3’s, the 2015-2020 DGA recommend about 250 mg of omega 3’s per day.
Fish is a great way to get DHA and EPA in. Adding two 4oz servings of Omega 3 rich fish per week will provide adequate amounts of this fat during the week. Fish that are rich in Omega 3s include salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, and sardines.
Supplements can also be a way to increase intake, especially if you don’t like or can’t eat fish regularly. Look for supplements with at least 250 mg (the recommended amount) of total omega 3’s, from a combination of DHA and EPA. Fish oil supplements or algal supplements can both work well.
Below are some recipe ideas for incorporating more fish into your diet:
Nourished Lifestyles dietitian Leslie’s favorite way to prepare salmon: Honey Mustard Pecan Crusted Salmon
When fresh whole salmon isn’t an option, canned salmon works great in these salmon patties!
This Miso-Roasted Mackerel recipe makes me want to put mackerel on my grocery list tonight!
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Author: Becca Sprague, MS, RD, LD