Which foods are the best sources of omega-3?
When it comes to healthy eating, you might already know more facts about nutrition than you first think. Things like; milk is a good source of calcium, oranges are high in Vitamin C, & spinach is packed full of iron. Maybe you learnt this from an old school teacher, or read it on a brightly-covered cereal box.
One thing’s for sure – these little nuggets of information have been engrained in your memory from a young age. You’ve probably also heard many times that omega-3s are good for you & your family. But what if someone asked you which foods are the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids? Would you know your omega-3s from your ABCs? Read on to find out.
What are omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are good, polyunsaturated fats that should be included as part of a healthy diet. The three most common omega-3 fatty acids are:
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
Or, as we like to call them – DHA, EPA and ALA for short.
Fish: the best source of omega-3 DHA and EPA
The omega-3 fatty acids DHA & EPA play an important role in lots of different functions in your body, such as keeping your heart, eyes & brain healthy. Your body can make a very small amount of DHA & EPA from omega-3 ALA, but not as much as it needs for optimal health. So, it’s essential you eat foods that are rich in DHA & EPA to ensure you’re getting all the omega-3 DHA & EPA your body needs.
Oily fish is the best source of omega-3 DHA and EPA. Good examples of omega-3 rich oily fish include:
Tip: To ensure kids & adults get enough omega-3 DHA and EPA for optimal health, various public health authorities recommend eating two 140g servings of fish weekly, one serving being oily fish.
Plant foods: the best source of omega-3 ALA
You may have heard that plant foods such as nuts, seeds & beans are also a good source of omega-3. While that’s true, plant foods only contain the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, & not the superstars DHA & EPA.
The best sources of omega-3 ALA include:
- flaxseed (also known as linseed)
- chia seeds
- hemp seeds
- pumpkin seeds
- hazelnuts (no, Nutella doesn’t count!)
- pine nuts
- edamame beans
- soya beans
- hemp, flaxseed, rapeseed, canola and soybean oils
Tip: Add a teaspoon of chia seeds or flaxseed to your smoothies or sprinkle over breakfast cereals.
So, while plants foods are very healthy, providing protein, fibre & other nutrients, unfortunately they can’t be relied upon as a source of health-promoting DHA and EPA. Eating fish twice a week is the only sure way of getting enough DHA and EPA in your diet.
But, if like many parents, you struggle with getting your child to eat fish, then a high quality, kid-friendly fish oil supplement such as SOMEGA® Easy Omega-3 is an ideal way to bridge the potential nutritional gap. And if you personally find eating fish a challenge too, the good news is that Easy Omega-3 is great for adults as well!
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