Scientists observed that Omega-3 fatty acid foods (also called omega–3 fats) have enormous health benefits. Research evidence suggest that increasing in omega 3 fats intake have a positive role in prevention and treatment of many diseases such as heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acid improves muscle activity, digestion, blood flow, fertility, and brain development. In this article, we discussed top ten natural Omega-3 fatty acid foods.
What is omega-3 fatty acid?
Omega-3 is a family of fats that are important for health. Omega-3 fats come in different forms. The three principal omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid found in walnuts, flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil and some other seed and nuts and their oils. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) cannot be made in the body so must be eaten in our diet. EPA and DHA are found in seafood, including fatty fish (e.g., salmon, tuna, and trout) and shellfish (e.g., crab, mussels, and oysters). ALA can be converted, usually in small amounts, into EPA and DHA in the body. The researchers found that EPA, DPA, DHA, and ALA were all associated with a lower risk of fatal heart disease .
The best way of ensuring we are taking enough EPA and DHA is to eat foods rich in these fats. Fish, and especially oily fish, are good sources of EPA and DHA. Oily fish has the highest levels so we should try and include this in our usual diet. White fish contains some omega-3 but at much lower levels than oily fish. Researchers found that seafood and plant-based omega-3 fatty acids were associated with a lower risk of dying from heart attacks. Omega-3 fatty acids play an active role in lowering inflammation. They minimize the risk of numerous chronic diseases such as heart disease, arthritis and cancer. Omega-3 is crucial for brain functioning, memory and behavioral function.
The top ten omega-3 fatty acid foods are fatty fish, fish eggs, kiwifruit seed oil, flax seeds, walnuts, chia seeds, krill, squid oil, hemp seeds, and other nuts and seeds.
1. Fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and trout)
Fatty fish such as salmon, trout, anchovies, sardines, and herring contain the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish that is steamed, baked or grilled is a healthier choice than fried fish. Frying can increase the fat content of fish especially if they’re cooked in batter. In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, fish provide specific proteins, vitamin D, selenium, and other minerals and elements.
2. Fish eggs (Fish Roe)
Fish eggs, also known as roe, are an incredible food rich in micro-nutrients and Omega-3 fatty acids. Study ranks salmon eggs as one of the three roes richest in omega-3s. Fish Roe from most species provides 342mg of Omega 3s per tablespoon (14g).
3. Kiwifruit seed oil
The main feature of kiwifruit seed oil is ALA. Kiwifruit seed oil contains on average 62% alpha-linolenic acid. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, as well as a good source of dietary fiber and vitamin E.
4. Flax seeds
Flax seed is a rich supply of ALA (alpha-linoleic acid) that the body converts into the EPA and DHA it needs. Flax seeds contain an unusually high amount of omega-3 fat, a type of fat found very few foods that is essential to every person’s diet. Omega 3 fat not only acts as an antioxidant to prevent disease, but it is used by the body to promote healthy cell growth and brain function. Flax seeds can be purchased whole or already ground up, but should be eaten ground since they are better absorbed in that form. One tablespoon of ground flax seeds contains about 1.6 grams of plant omega-3 fat.
Walnuts contain measurable amounts of Omega 3’s, these nuts look like little bitty brains for a reason; they’re great for improving your mood, cognitive function and are some of the most highly recommended nuts for good heart health. Walnuts have more omega-3 than any other nut. Just 1/4 cup of walnuts provides 2.5 g of the essential fatty acid. Keep in mind that walnuts and other nuts are healthiest in their raw state since high heats changes the fatty acid structure. Walnuts also offer other health protective benefits. In a study published in the August 2009 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, subjects that added walnuts to their 2000 calorie per day diet experienced weight loss, as well as a drop in blood sugar levels. Along with omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts contain ellagic acid. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center reports that ellagic acid contains antiviral and antibiotic properties and is now found to have anticancer properties as well.
6. Chia seed
Chia seed taken from a plant in the mint family is growing in popularity since it is a great source of omega 3 fat. One ounce of chia seeds contain 1.6 grams of omega 3 fat, which is the total amount that the Food and Drug Administration recommends eating every day. Omega 3 rich foods are important in your daily diet because most plant foods contain lots of omega 6 fat but very little omega 3 fat. Chia seeds do contain some protein, phosphorus and manganese, but virtually no vitamins or other minerals. So be sure to balance your consumption of chia seeds with other types of seeds with a more balanced nutritional profile.
Krill – or “okiami” as the Japanese call it – are small, shrimp-like creatures. Krill are the largest biomass in the world and can be found in all oceans. Krill iss a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids, especially biologically active EPA and DHA. They contribute to healthy heart, brain and nervous system, joint health, and they lower inflammation throughout the body. Krill oil typically has a better absorption rate than fish oil. Krill oil also contains a powerful antioxidant – astaxantin, which gives the oil its rich, dark red color.
8. Squid oil
Calamari oil (also called squid oil) is a further source of Omega 3 fatty acids. It is considered environmentally friendly because it is prepared from the mostly unused parts of calamari catches.
9. Hemp seed
Hemp seed is a top source of Omega 3 fats. However, many people shy away from hemp seeds because they contain Omega 6 fats too, however, plant-based Omega 6 fats are different than those from animal sources because they contain no cholesterol or as high amounts of saturated fats. Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats from hemp seeds have also been shown to improve brain and digestive health. Some people also opt for hemp seed oil in place of highly heated vegetable oils that are unhealthy for your heart and rancid. Be sure you don’t heat hemp oil if you choose to use it since the high heat will also change the structure of this healthy fatty acid source. Hemp seeds are a power superfood for people of all kinds, especially athletes or those on a grain-free diet.
10. Seeds and nuts
Nuts like butternuts, brazil nuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts and peanuts contain slightly less omega-3 but they contain mono and polyunsaturated fats-which help lower cholesterol; L-arginine, which helps maintain the health of the cardiovascular system; fiber,which lowers cholesterol and helps control diabetes; vitamin E, which is an antioxidant and helps prevent heart disease and plant sterols, which help lower cholesterol levels.
Many seeds like sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds contain valuable Omega 3 fatty acids in the form of ALA (Alpha linolenic acid). The problem is that seeds are often so small that it can be difficult to chew and grind them with your teeth. the omega-3 is in the ALA form (alpha-Linolenic acid), which is a short-chain form that needs to be elongated to EPA and DHA to be useful for the body.
Summary of Omega-3 fatty acid Foods:
Aging is a complex process, lifestyle and proper natural food is the best way to enhance the quality of life. We have discussed here top ten natural omega-3 foods. These top ten omega-3 fatty acid foods are fatty fish, fish eggs, kiwifruit seed oil, flax seeds, walnuts, chia seeds, krill, squid oil, hemp seeds, and other nuts and seeds.