You’ve probably been hearing a lot about omega-3s recently, but you might be wondering what all the good press is about. It turns out that not all fats are bad for you; in fact, your body needs omega-3 fatty acids to function properly. But where can these heart-healthy, cancer-preventing, inflammation-reducing omega-3s be found? Sure, you could take a supplement, like fish oil pills, but your body absorbs and utilizes omega-3s better if you get them from real food. What are the best ways to get omega-3 from your diet, and not a pill? Most are seafood, but a few sources of omega-3s might surprise you. Here are 8 healthy ways to get omega-3.
1. Flax Seeds
One small serving of flax seeds (in, say, a bowl of oatmeal or in a smoothie) is likely the best source of omega-3s. They very low in cholesterol and sodium, but still give you more than a day's worth. Flax seeds are also an excellent natural source of protein and fiber, making them a must-have in any heart-healthy diet.
A serving of walnuts will probably fit in the palm of your hand, but that little snack contains nearly all of the omega-3s you’ll need in an entire day. They’re also another good source of protein and fiber. Add them to salads or breads, or simply eat them roasted.
I’ll bet you’re surprised to see the first seafood source of omega-3s this far down on my list, but it’s true; salmon contains a little more than half of a day’s worth of the stuff, but it’s not the best source. Wild salmon is a healthier choice than farm-raised salmon, but either is ideal for adding to your menu once a week. I love grilled salmon on top of a spinach salad… because spinach is yet another way to get omega-3. Double whammy!
Though sardines are admittedly an acquired taste, and they are a good source of omega-3s, they’re not the best choice for someone looking to lower their cholesterol. They are, though, loaded with protein and calcium. If you like the taste, just make sure you exercise moderation.
5. Soy Beans
One serving of soy beans contains about half of the omega-3 fatty acids you ought to consume in one day. Like several of the other ways to get omega-3s, they’re also a good source of vegan-friendly protein. Enjoy them boiled, add them to soups, or drink them in a glass of soy milk.
Not a fan of salmon? Then try a serving of halibut, which is another seafood source of omega-3. Halibut is also a good source of the B vitamins and protein, and it’s low in sodium. Try baking a nice piece of halibut with a little sea salt and ground black pepper, with a squeeze of lemon at the end. So delicious and nutritious!
The good news: shrimp is another source of omega-3s. The bad news: it’s also quite high in cholesterol, so if you’re a fan of shrimp, enjoy it in moderation, and avoid dipping it in butter sauce. Instead, grill it with garlic and a little oil, and serve with fresh greens. And don’t eat it breaded and deep-fried, or you’ve undone all the good from the omega-3s.
Tofu is another vegetarian choice for omega-3s, and it’s so versatile, you can make practically any dish with it! I add it to soups and pastas, but feel free to try it in almost any of your favorite dishes. One serving of tofu will give you about 15% of your recommended dose of omega-3s, so enjoy it a few times a week to get your fill of heart-healthy fats.
Isn’t it interesting that so many of these ways to get omega-3s come from seafood, or from vegetarian-friendly sources? I love adding walnuts and flax seeds to my morning oatmeal, but how will you get your omega-3s? Which of these foods is your fave, and how do you prepare it?