The importance of healthy eating has been a major topic of conversation for centuries, with countless pieces of dietary advice passed down through the ages and new information coming our way regularly. Among these conversations, it is easy to miss some very useful information, and it sometimes feels as though this has been the case with Omega 3 – a type of fatty acid that is highly beneficial for everyone, especially growing children.
We’ve all heard that Omega-3’s are important but do we really know why? And how do we find good sources of it that are sustainable and readily absorbed? Here is a rundown of the basics of Omega-3’s and how we can maximize this important nutrient for ourselves and our families.
What does Omega 3 do for your health?
From the beginning of life to the end, Omega 3s have a lot of benefits for anyone who gets enough of them in their diet. If an expectant mother gets a regular portion of foods with this nutrient, it’s believed that they can contribute to the brain health of the child she is carrying and these benefits continue when young children are fed those foods as part of a balanced diet. At the other end of your life, a diet rich in these fatty acids is understood to play a big part in staving off dementia. In between times, they’ll reduce blood pressure – and with it your risk of heart problems and strokes – as well as being useful against depression, anxiety, and ADHD.
Which foods are rich in Omega 3?
There is a particularly substantial dose of Omega 3 in seafood, with many of the most beneficial foods being oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, and herring. But really, any sea-based food will have a decent quantity, from algae to the best Russian caviar. Although much of the evidence is anecdotal, there are famously low rates of dementia in Mediterranean communities where much of the local diet is based around fish.
It’s not just seafood, though. Nuts and legumes also offer high levels of Omega 3, particularly flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Although it is most plentiful in fish, there is no reason anyone should go without, regardless of your dietary preferences or restrictions.
What do you need to be aware of when trying to add Omega-3s into your diet?
While there is a long list of foods that provide a healthy amount of Omega 3, it is worth being aware that how you prepare those foods makes a difference. While tuna is frequently noted as being a good source of Omega 3’s, how you prepare the tuna has an impact. Eaten as part of sushi, you’ll get the full benefit of those fatty acids, and the same is broadly true if you bake the fish. However, frying a tuna steak can break down the fats in the fish and render it much less beneficial. The same is true of any fish – so if you are preparing a salmon dinner, it is best to wrap the fish in foil and bake it in the oven. Include a pat of grass-fed butter and a wedge of lemon, and the salmon will taste extraordinary!