Get the Skinny on Omega-3’s

Fish, especially fattier fish like salmon, contains omega-3 fats that are nature’s remedy for much that ails us.  But just how much do we need, and what if we’re not so crazy about fish?  Molly’s got the Skinny for us on all things omega-3, including options even for finicky eaters and vegetarians.

 

Omega-3 rich fish oil not only helps to lower blood pressure and triglycerides, it’s also essential for a baby’s brain development.  Plus, omega-3’s can help to prevent blood clots, keep arteries more pliable, and act as a natural anti-inflammatory.

 

And that’s only the beginning.  Omega-3’s are associated with a lower incidence of depression, macular degeneration, and possibly even dementia, and they may improve symptoms of psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

 

The American Heart Association recommends that we all eat fish - preferably fatty fish – at least twice a week.  These omega-3-rich ‘fatty’ fish include mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines, trout, and halibut.

 

And if you’ve been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, we should aim for about 1,000 mg of the fish oils eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), every day.

 

To get one gram (1,000 mg) of EPA and DHA from seafood, you’ll need approximately:

  • 15 ounces catfish
  • 12 ounces canned light tuna
  • 11 ounces shrimp
  • 3 ounces salmon, trout, or sardines [wild caught is typically richer in omega-3’s]
  • OR: Reap the whole-body benefits of omega-3’s by supplementing with fish oil.

 

Check the Supplement Facts: Add up the EPA + DHA listed on the label, aiming for 1,000 mg daily.

 

Flax oil: Not the same thing. It’s an excellent source of an omega-3 fat called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), this particular type of omega-3 fat doesn’t provide the same benefits as fish oil, since just about 5% is converted into EPA and DHA.

 

The bottom line: To reap the full benefits of fish oil, our best bet is to eat the fish or take fish oil capsules – or vegan EPA + DHA supplements.

 

As always, check with your physician before beginning any supplement regime, particularly if you are taking any prescription medications.

 

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Want more from Molly?  Click here to sign up for Nutrition Bites, her weekly e-newsletter with links to her Get the Skinny TV segments here on WGNO, and her weekly column in NOLA.com|The Times-Picayune!   And you can follow Molly on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram:  @MollyKimballRD