Omega-3s are in in a big way right now. And for good reason! But what is that reason? Why do you need them? What’s so damn important about them anyway?
Honestly, I had no idea either. My mother has been after me for ages to get my omega-3s into me, she insists they’re good for me. But she thinks a lot of things are good for me without knowing why.
So I did some research. Turns out they’re really necessary, I mean absolutely crucial, to your diet.
Omega-3s are part of a bigger group of ‘good’ fats called polyunsaturated fats. Omega-3s are part of a tiny subsection called polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). PUFAs like Omega-3s can be divided into three chemical structures: ALA, DHA, EPA.
The first ALA is a short form for alpha-linoleic acid. It’s first, because it is something our bodies require to continue to function, and it’s something our bodies cannot make. At all. You need 20-50 mg of ALA a day.
The other two are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). (In a side note, no, I can’t pronounce those either). Our bodies can produce trace amounts of these two acids by consuming ALA. The trace amounts aren’t enough for our bodies though, so we have to get them somewhere else too.
Why They’re Good For You
Help limit high cholesterol
Help control high blood pressure
Reduces risk of heart disease
Help control diabetes
Help prevent and treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
Incorporating Them Into Your Diet
The most common way to get Omega-3s is through fish. However, concerns have been rising over heavy metal intake through the consumption of our fishy friends. In order to eliminate those risks (because two or three servings of fish with mercury a week is a lot) I’ve come up with a list of how to get your Omega-3s from other sources.
A woman needs between 1.1 and 1.4 grams of Omega-3s every day. Which doesn’t sound hard but can be trickier than you think.
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The Top Ten Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Flaxseeds probably rock the highest Omega-3s. Even higher than most fish. Flaxseeds come in two different formulas that your body can absorb. Flaxseed oil makes it easy for your body to absorb the omega-3s it needs. But regular flaxseeds must be ground down to increase the likelihood of absorption in your body. One tablespoon of ground flaxseeds (or a teaspoon of the oil) covers your needs for the day.
2. Chia Seeds
Also up there on the ridiculously high omega-3 list are chia seeds, unlike flaxseeds, you don’t have to ground Chia seeds down. Chia seeds have 1.9 grams of ALAs alone in 1 tablespoon, which is more than you need.
English or Persian Walnuts have the highest Omega-3 content of any nut by far. ¼ of walnuts meets twice your daily needs. To get just what you need, cup your hand, fill just the palm.
Not just any beef will do. Grass fed beef is high in Omega-3s. Which means paying a visit to your local organic farm, hobby farm, or locally sourcing butcher. Which, in the long run is better for the economy. To stick with grass fed beef, buy organic.
A cup has about one tenth of your required omega-3 intake, but is also high in vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate. Plus baking, cooking, steaming, and boiling are all viable ways to eat it without deteriorating the amount of omega-3s
6. Fermented Tofu
Preventing free-radical damage, certain types of cancer, and now ½ cup of fermented tofu delivers 28% of your daily needed intake of Omega-3s.
7. Brussels Sprouts
Loads of fiber, protecting your DNA from free radicals, staving off cancer, helping keep your thyroid healthy, a cup of Brussels sprouts have 11% of your daily needed intake of Omega-3s.
8. Hickory nuts
A ¼ cup of hickory nuts gets you your daily requirements of ALA.
Is my favourite thing. It’s got fiber, protein and a good source of omega-3s. Half a cup is all your need to meet your daily ALA requirements. A cup has 43% of your daily needed intake.
Steel or coarse cuts oats have omega-3s (59% of your daily needed intake in a single serving!), folate, and potassium. It is full of fiber that can drastically reduce you bad cholesterol.