Omega 3 Fatty acids are essential fatty acids, also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Basically they are unsaturated fats which are beneficial for the cardiovascular system. They play a crucial role in brain function as well as normal growth and development. Besides, they also aid in reducing the risk of heart diseases. These fats are not produced in the body, so they have to be obtained from foods and supplements.
According to research, omega-3 fatty acids play an instrumental role in reducing inflammation. They lower the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Being concentrated in the brain, it is important for brain memory and performance and behavioural function. In fact, infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk of developing vision and nerve problems. Deficiency symptoms of omega-3 fatty acids include poor memory, fatigue, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings, depression and poor circulation.
List of omega−3 fatty acids:
This table lists several different names for the most common omega−3 fatty acids found in nature.
Hexadecatrienoic acid (HTA)
α-Linolenic acid (ALA)
Stearidonic acid (SDA)
Eicosatrienoic acid (ETE)
Eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA)
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
Heneicosapentaenoic acid (HPA)
Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA),
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
Tetracosahexaenoic acid (Nisinic acid)
Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
- Seafood is the largest source of omega-3 fatty acids which includes fish such as tuna, salmon and halibut, and other sea foods including algae and krill.
- Walnuts, soy foods, pumpkin seeds and canola (rapeseed) oil are other sources of omega-3 fats.
- Dark-green, leafy vegetables like spinach and romaine lettuce are high in omega-3s too.
- Apart from these, fruits such as melons, black berries and pomegranates contain omega-3s in high concentrations.
World’s Healthiest Foods ranked as quality sources of omega-3 fats
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1 cup cooked
1 cup baked
1 cup cooked
1 cup cooked
1 cup cooked
1 cup cooked
1 cup raw
1 cup raw
1 cup raw
World’s Healthiest Foods Rating Rule
Omega 3 Rich Foods:
The top ten sources of omega 3 fatty acids foods are as follows.
1. Fish Oil:
Fish oil is probably the most important source of omega-3 fatty acids. It is a well- known supplement of omega-3s and can be found in both liquid form and capsules.
- There are two important types of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Both these acids are found in fish.
- Salmon is a rich source of healthy fats as well as omega 3s.
- Farm raised salmon contains about 1.8 grams of omega-3s per 3 ounce serving and has a greater quantity of omega-3s than wild salmon.
- However it provides less usable omega-3s and contains more of pesticides and antibiotics.
- Therefore, it is preferable to have wild caught salmon without the chemicals.
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Besides salmon, there are plenty of other fish which are rich omega-3 sources. These include bluefish, tuna, herring, shrimps, mackerel, trout, anchovies, sardines etc. It is generally recommended to consume fish two to three times per week.
Given below are some popular fish and shellfish and their approximate total content of omega-3 fats per 4 ounce portion:
- Salmon (Atlantic, Chinook, Coho):1,200-2,400 mg
- Anchovies: 2,300-2,400 mg
- Bluefin tuna: 1,700 mg
- Yellowfin tuna: 150-350 mg
- Canned tuna: 150-300 mg
- Sardines: 1,100-1,600 mg.
- Trout: 1,000-1,100 mg.
- Crab: 200-550 mg.
- Cod: 200 mg
- Scallops: 200 mg.
- Lobsters: 200 mg.
- Tilapia: 150 mg.
- Shrimp: 100 mg
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2. Other Oils:
Apart from fish oil, there are other oils which are great sources of ALA omega-3 fatty acids. These are olive oil, canola oil, flax seed oil, and soybean oil.
Olive and canola oils can easily form part of our diet by adding them to vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, carrots, onions or potatoes or roasting them, thus leading to a healthy diet.
Both flax seeds and flax seed oil are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These seeds are reddish brown or golden yellow in colour.
- They should be grounded to get the most nutrients as the outer hull of the seed is very difficult to digest.
- Flaxseeds can easily be found in the health section of any local grocery store.
- As far as flaxseed oil is concerned, it is better to grind your own flax seeds rather than buying flaxseed oil from the store as store bought oil turns rancid even if kept in a refrigerator.
- The greatest advantage of flaxseed is that it can easily be added to a smoothie or oatmeal.
You can try two tablespoons of flaxseed with oatmeal or frozen berries in your protein shake. Some plant sources and their quantities of omega-3s are as follows:
- Flaxseed oil, 1 tablespoon . . . . . 8.5 grams of ALA
- English walnuts, 1 ounce. . . . . . 2.6 grams of ALA
- Flaxseeds, 1 tablespoon. . . . . . . 2.2 grams of ALA
- Canola oil, 1 tablespoon. . . . . . . 1.2 grams of ALA
Those who are not fond of fish can switch to eggs as eggs are also among the foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
- In order to consume complete fatty acids, grass fed beef or poultry is most suitable.
- However it is difficult and expensive to find grass fed beef or poultry.
- These can be substituted with a variety of free range eggs which contain 7 times more omega-3s than regular eggs.
- They are easily available at most grocery chains.
5. Chia Seeds:
Being another source of ALA, this unprocessed, nutty-tasting seeds were used by the Aztecs as their main energy source for hundreds of years.
- These tiny seeds are rich in fibre, protein, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
- These can also be used as a substitute for whole grains.
- Unlike other seeds, it is not required to grind them for your body to absorb nutrients.
- Chia seeds can be sprinkled on yogurt, cereals and salads.
- They can also be added to shakes, smoothies and quick bread batter to get the nutrition.
- One to two tablespoons of chia seeds each day is considered a very healthy amount.
6. Hemp Seeds:
Hemp seeds contain the most essential fatty acids of any nuts or seeds. They are high in proteins, minerals and polyunsaturated fatty ascids like gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and stearidonic acid (SDA).
Hemp seeds can also be sprinkled on foods and should be stored in the freezer to prevent them from going bad.
Cauliflower also contains a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids which makes this leafy vegetable suitable for maintaining a healthy condition of the heart. Apart from omega-3, it is rich in nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and niacin.
In order to retain its nutrients, cauliflower should be steamed for not more than five to six minutes and lemon juice or cold pressed virgin olive oil should be added to it.
8. Brussels Sprouts:
These little green vegetables are a storehouse of nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids and are considered perfect food for promoting healthy and beautiful skin. They should be steamed for about five minutes before consuming.
Each serving of Brussels sprouts contains about 430 milligrams of alpha-linolenic acid.
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This salad with a slightly peppery taste contains about 400 milligrams of omega-3s per serving. It is also high in calcium, potassium, iron and vitamin A. This places it high on the list of omega 3 foods.
10. Perilla Oil:
This particular oil is extracted from the seeds of the herb perilla and is an excellent omega 3 food.
Over 50 percent of perilla oil has ALA, with around 8960 milligrams omega-3 fatty acids per tablespoon.
Now that you know the benefits of omega 3 rich foods and their sources, we are sure you will try and incorporate more of these in your diet. Eat healthy, stay healthy and do let us know how you are using these in your food.
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