Which foods are the best sources of omega-3?

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, and 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 and 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 and EPA play an important role in lots of different functions in your body, such as keeping your heart, eyes and brain healthy. Your body can make a very small amount of DHA and 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 and EPA to ensure you’re getting all the omega-3 DHA and 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:

  • mackerel
  • salmon
  • sardines
  • herring
  • kippers
  • anchovies
  • trout
  • oysters

Tip: To ensure kids and 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 and beans are also a good source of omega-3. While that’s true, plant foods only contain the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, and not the superstars DHA and EPA.

The best sources of omega-3 ALA include:

  • flaxseed (also known as linseed)
  • chia seeds
  • hemp seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • walnuts
  • pecans
  • hazelnuts (no, Nutella doesn’t count!)
  • pine nuts
  • avocado
  • 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 and 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 SOMEGA Easy Omega-3 is great for adults as well!

Resources:

1. Omega-3. British Dietetic Association. www.bda.uk.com, last reviewed September 2017.
2. Plant-based diet. British Dietetic Association. www.bda.uk.com, last reviewed September 2017.
3. Fats. British Dietetic Association. www.bda.uk.com, last reviewed January 2018.
4. Healthy eating for vegans and vegetarians. British Nutrition Foundation. www.nutrition.org, accessed 17 December 2018.
5. Nutrient lists: ALA. USDA Food Composition Databases. United States Department of Agriculture. www.usda.gov, accessed 17 December 2018.
6. Nutrient lists: EPA. USDA Food Composition Databases. United States Department of Agriculture. www.usda.gov, accessed 17 December 2018.
7. Nutrient lists: EPA and DHA. USDA Food Composition Databases. United States Department of Agriculture. www.usda.gov, accessed 17 December 2018.
8. Exploring nutrients. British Nutrition Foundation. www.nutrition.org, accessed 17 December 2018.

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