Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for a well-rounded diet that nourishes the body, but unfortunately, it is a particular type of fat the body is unable to create on its own. This means we must take careful consideration to include the right amount of omega-3 fatty acids into our daily routines and meals to ensure we receive the ongoing benefits.
How Best to Introduce Omega-3 Fatty Acids Into Your Diet
Benefits of Maintaining Omega-3
The most understood potential benefit of omega-3 fatty acids is the improvement or management of heart diseases. This essential fat is primarily found in fish oil, and contains both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which can be important anti-inflammatories. Introducing these elements within your diet might work to further:
- Lower triglyceride levels by slowing their development in the liver
- Prevent blood platelets clumping together, reducing the risk of blood clots
- Minimise the likelihood of an abnormal heart rhythm
- Slow the development of arterial plaque
- Reduce the chance of atherosclerosis (a condition causing the arteries to harden) by slowing the production of known substances released during inflammatory responses
- Improvement in insulin sensitivity for sufferers of metabolic disorders
Eating More Fish within Your Weekly Meals
Given that omega-3 fatty acids are an organic substance found within fish oil, naturally by introducing more fish into your weekly meals, your diet will receive a needed injection of the essential fats. Typically, a serving size of fish is roughly 100 grams, but depending on the type, the amount of omega-3 will vary. For example, Mackerel will hold approximately 2.5 grams of omega-3 fish oil per serving size, whereas canned tuna may only include as little as 0.5 grams per serving size. Other notable choices can be salmon (1.8 grams), bluefin tuna (1.3 grams), herring (1.8 grams), lake trout (2 grams), anchovy (1.4 grams), bluefish (1.2 grams), halibut (0.9 grams) and striped bass (0.8 grams). Balance and experiment with different selections based on your taste preferences and budgets.
Unfortunately for many, finding their source of omega-3 fatty acids directly from consuming fish isn’t possible. Perhaps they observe vegetarian or vegan diets, or are concerned about the amount of mercury within their seafood meals. After all, mercury does occur naturally within the environment, but can also find its way into our food chains through industrial pollution, similar to microplastics.
Plant-Based Omega-3 Alternatives
Should you wish to introduce more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet without consuming fish, there are also a range of plant-based alternatives. These include a range of nuts, seeds and natural oils, only they do not typically hold the same anti-inflammatories found in fish oil. As mentioned above, plant-based omega-3 alternatives will not hold EPA and DHA, but alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body will then partially convert to EPA and DHA after consumption. ALA can be found in foods such as soybean, flaxseed, vegetable oils, sprouts, kale, and spinach.
Fish oil remains the preferred option of the two foods, given the direct consumption of EPA and DHA.