Omega-3 plays a specific role in an ideal diet. Find out why getting enough omega-3 in your diet is essential to your health.
Your body can produce most of the fats it needs to survive using other fats and raw materials from the foods you eat. Omega-3 fatty acids are an exception. As essential fats, omega-3 fatty acids must come from the foods you eat — your body can’t make them. And it’s important that your body gets the right amount of omega-3.
A key component of cell membranes, omega-3 fatty acids affect how the receptors of these membranes work. They’re a starting point for the hormones that control blood clotting and the contraction and relaxation of the walls of your arteries as well as inflammation. As they bind to receptors that control genetic function, these fatty acids play a big role in the operations of the brain and in every person’s growth and development.
Research has shown that in addition to reducing inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids help prevent stroke and heart disease. Research also points to the possibility that these fatty acids can help control rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and eczema, and they may protect you against some types of cancer. You’ve likely heard that fish is a large source of omega-3, but other foods such as leafy vegetables, flax seeds and flaxseed oils, and some nuts such as walnuts can also get you an omega-3 boost.
Fish and fish oil are some of the best ways of getting the omega-3 you need. Mackerel and salmon are nutrient-rich fish that provide a large amount of omega-3, while cod liver oil can be taken as a supplement that can get you the same effects.
Do keep in mind that you shouldn’t eat fish every day — some fish have higher concentrations of mercury in them than others, so choose your omega-3 fish sources carefully and don’t eat more than two to three servings of it per week. You can easily keep track of how many servings you’ve had in a week with the optional fish tracker in the Lifesum app. Just go to “Diary Settings” in the nutrition tracker and turn on the Seafood Tracker.
What if you’re a vegetarian or the thought of eating large amounts of seafood makes you uneasy? You can also boost your omega-3 intake with some other foods. If fish doesn’t factor into your diet, look to other foods like certain seeds and nuts to make sure you get enough omega-3.
When it comes to non-fish foods, flaxseeds and chia seeds are great sources of omega-3 that you can easily add to your meals and snacks. Walnuts also increase the omega-3 fats in your diet: Don’t remove their skin, as the skin is where you get most of the phenol antioxidants.
Adding more omega-3 to your diet has significant health benefits. Make sure you get the right amount of omega-3 your body needs by eating nutrient-rich fish along with vegetables, seeds, and nuts.
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