Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of essential fatty acids (not manufactured by the body), which are vital to maintaining the body’s health.
The 3 major types which should be obtained from our diet include:
ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) mainly found in plants.
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) mainly found in animal foods.
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) mainly found in animal foods.
We’ve all heard the advertisements that encourage us to consume Omega-3 supplements to protect your heart and lower the risk of developing heart disease.
Advertisements everywhere bombard us with the notion of a “miracle pill” that can cure major ailments like cardiovascular disease, hypertension and obesity especially since these non-communicable diseases are widespread across the Caribbean region, which can be attributed in great part to our diet high in refined foods and salt.
However, the reality is that no such pill exists!
If there was, we can expect that it would not come cheaply and many people would pay anything if they are influenced enough to believe that it would work.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to have various beneficial effects on the body when eaten in the right quantities such as:
Improves risk factors for heart disease such as plaque build-up in the major arteries, which reduces obstruction of blood flow throughout the body.
Reduces risk of developing blood clots. Omega-3s help prevent platelets from clumping together.
Keeps the inner arterial wall smooth and prevents damage from plaque formation.
Increases high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good cholesterol” levels which helps reduce plaque build-up in arteries.
Lowers rate of triglyceride manufacturing levels in liver, which in turn, helps lower the risk of heart disease.
EPA and DHA may help reduce blood pressure as effectively as exercising or reducing salt.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to prevent inflammation and maintain brain structure and function in aging persons.
Thankfully, you do not have to “break the bank” in order to include quality sources of Omega-3s in your diet.
While some of the following sources of Omega-3s are a little on the pricey side, it is a worthwhile investment that will last for a long time, if consumed in the correct proportions, will make up for price tag.
On average, the Recommended Dietary Allowance for ALA fatty acids per day is 1.6 grams (men) and 1.1 grams (women).
Here are 10 sources of Omega-3s you can obtain from your diet:
Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines
Extra Virgin Olive oil: Drizzle over salads, open-faced sandwiches, and vegetables
Flax seeds or chia seeds: Add to smoothies, cereal and yogurt.
Meat and dairy products such as eggs and lean cuts of beef and chicken from grass-fed animals
Fish oil supplements such as cod liver oil
Seaweed and algae, which are present in many Asian dishes.
Ivana Akalloo, BSc, is a graduate of the Human Nutrition and Dietetics (Special) programme at The UWI, St. Augustine. In her spare time, she enjoys learning languages, reading, dancing, leaning various new skills and watching Korean dramas.
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.