Foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids are an integral part of a healthy balanced diet. Omega 3 fatty acids are highly beneficial for your brain functioning as well. These are polyunsaturated fats and have many health benefits.
What are omega 3 fatty acids?
Omega 3s are essential fatty acids. These are called essential because the human body is not capable of producing them and we need them through the various plant or animal sources.
There are 3 different types of omega 3s –
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
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The most preferred sources of DHA and EPA are seafood, while ALA is commonly found in plant sources, nuts, and seeds.
Now you know why doctors say that you should include nuts in your daily diet. Having nuts in breakfast with cereal and milk would be a boost of energy and would compensate for your daily dose of omega 3s to some extent.
Leading health organizations have recommended that the daily requirement of omega 3 fatty acids by a healthy adult should be 250 – 500 mg.
Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in large quantities in fatty fish, high fat plant foods, and algae. Read on to find the 10 rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids.
Top 10 foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids
Listed below are the top 10 foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
Salmon is considered to be one of the most nutrient dense Omega-3 foods. It is rich not only in omega 3 fatty acids, but also in protein, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and B-5 vitamins.
Omega 3 content – 2260 mg per 100 grams
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2. Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is more of a health supplement than a food item. The oil is extracted from the liver of codfish, hence the name.
It is rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin D. Make sure you talk to a doctor before consuming fish oil because an excess of it can have adverse effects.
Cod liver oil capsules, commonly known as fish oil capsules are easily available in the market. Pop one and you’d get your daily dose of omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 content – 2664 mg in 1 tbsp
Walnuts are loaded with nutrients. They have high amount of magnesium, copper, and Vitamin E. Walnuts when eaten without removing their skin are rich in antioxidants.
Omega 3 content – 2542 mg per 7 walnuts
Caviar redefines luxury! Salty fish eggs, these are usually used in small quantities in starters or as garnishing.
Caviar is one of the amazing omega 3 fatty acids foods. This is definitely a luxurious way to consume omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 content – 6789 mg per 100 grams
Different kinds of tuna have varying levels of omega 3 fatty acids. Checking the nutrition label on the packaging is highly recommended. To get the most omega 3 out of tuna, choose water-packed tuna rather than oil packed tuna.
Omega 3 content – 1414 mg per 3 ounces
These small brown seeds work like a magic ingredient for your body. Flaxseeds are a very rich whole food source of omega 3 fatty acids. Flaxseed oil is a major component of omega 3 supplements. Flaxseeds are also very high in Vitamin E and magnesium.
Omega 3 content – 1597 mg in 1 tbsp
7. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are one of the quite popular Omega 3 foods. They are a great source of calcium, manganese, and phosphorus. They are super rich in omega 3 fatty acids. So the next time you make a smoothie, add a dollop of chia seeds to make it healthier.
Omega 3 content -2457 mg in 1 tbsp
Soybeans are a great source of fiber, vegetable protein and other nutrients like vitamin K folate, magnesium, and potassium. They are also a rich source of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
Omega 3 content – 1443 mg per 100 grams
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Rich in protein, vitamins, fat fighting nutrient called choline, and omega 3 fatty acids, you should include eggs in your daily diet.
These days there are special omega 3 eggs available in the market. These eggs are obtained from hens whose feed is supplemented with an omega 3 source, mainly flaxseeds.
If you have any cholesterol related problem, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor and find a healthier alternative.
Omega 3 content – 225 mg per egg
Cauliflower, a great omega 3 food, is also rich in other essential nutrients like potassium, niacin, and magnesium.
Omega 3 content – 37 mg per 100 grams
Health Benefits Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The powerhouse omega 3 fatty acids work wonders for your body and brain. Omega 3 foods are enriched with goodness and it is highly recommended that you include foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids in your daily diet.
Important health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids include –
1. Helps improve cardiovascular health
Omega 3 foods are known to lowering blood pressure, and plaque buildup in arteries. They also lower LDL (bad cholesterol) which helps reduce the risk of heart diseases.
2. Lowers inflammation
Inflammation is essential for your body. It is needed to fight against infections and for damage repair.
Omega 3 fatty acids help reduce the production of substances related to inflammation. This would, in turn, lead to reduction in joint and muscle pain
3. Stabilizes blood sugar
Omega 2 fatty acids are known to reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Insulin resistance is a common metabolic syndrome and omega 3 keeps this in check. This, in turn, lowers your risk of being affected by diabetes.
4. Reduces the risk of cancer
Studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids are effective in reducing the risk of various types of cancer. They also help lower the risk of cancer reoccurrence.
Consumption of omega 3 fatty acids had been associated with reduced risk of prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women.
5. Can alleviate menstrual pain
Menstrual pain and cramps are something that most women complain of during periods. Some have mild pain, while for others the cramps are only subsided by painkillers.
Research shows that women who regularly take omega 3 supplements have milder menstrual pain.
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7. Improves sleep
A sound sleep of 6 – 8 hours is extremely important for a healthy mind and body. If you’re someone fighting insomnia or have trouble falling asleep, then you should take omega 3 supplements (under a doctor’s supervision).
Studies in both children and adults have revealed that optimum amount of omega 3 fatty acids increase the length and quality of sleep.
8. Fight autoimmune diseases
Autoimmune diseases are the ones in which the immune system mistakes healthy cells as foreign cells and starts attacking them. Including foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids will help you fight autoimmune diseases like diabetes type – I, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis.
9. Keeps mental disorders at bay
People with mental disorders usually have low levels of omega 3 fatty acids. Increasing the intake of foods rich in omega 3s would help tackle the symptoms.
Studies suggest that omega 3 supplements help reduce mood swings, prevent and treat mental disorders like depression and anxiety. EPA is most effective in fighting against depression.
10. Good for your skin
Omega 3 fatty acids protect your skin from sun damage and keep your skin healthy and radiant.
EPA, a kind of omega 3 fatty acid is beneficial for the skin in many ways.
- Prevents premature aging of skin
- Manages hydration of the skin
- Prevents acne
- Manages oil production in skin
11. Improves eye health
DHA, a type of omega 3 fatty acid is a major structural component of the retina of the eye and the brain.
Lower levels of DHA can lead to vision problems. Getting the optimum amount of omega 3 fatty acids via Omega 3 foods or supplements can help reduce the risk of macular degeneration – a major cause of permanent eye damage and blindness.
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Other important Omega 3 foods
- Nuts and seeds – Cashew nuts, brazil nuts, hemp seeds, and hazelnuts have omega 3 fatty acids in the form of ALA.
- Oils – Various oils have omega 3s in the form of ALA. Mustard oil, hemp oil, and walnut oil are great sources of vegetarian omega 3 fatty acids.
- Vegetables – Green leafy vegetables are a great source of ALA. Yet another reason to have your weekly dose of greens! Brussels sprouts, spinach, and kale are good sources of ALA. Although ALA is not as good as DHA and EPA, but you still need to have these foods included in your diet. Most of the sources of ALAs are rich in fiber and other nutrients, so it is a win-win situation for you.
Dangers of Omega 3 deficiency
Too less omega 3 in your diet can lead to omega 3 deficiency which can, in turn, lead to various health problems. These include –
- Higher risk of heart diseases
- Digestive disorders
- High cholesterol
- Poor brain development
- Mental disorders like depression, anxiety etc.
- Joint and muscle pain
- Cognitive decline
Now that you know the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids and the top 10 foods with a high source of omega 3, it is time to cook something delicious and healthy. Include these foods or omega 3 supplements in your daily diet and say goodbye to various health problems.
Frequently Asked Questions on Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Q1. Does Omega-3 help in weight loss?
Answer – Omega 3 fatty acids are calorically dense. They have calories and help to reduce inflammation and are used for general health. It will not help in losing weight.
Q2. How much Omega 3 fatty acid pill (100mg) should a person consume daily? What about the timing to take these pills?
Answer – The recommended dietary allowance for omega 3, for an adult, varies between 1- 2 g per day. This includes diet as well as the supplement. The omega 3 capsule that contains around 500 mg omega 3 can be taken twice or thrice a day, depending upon your intake from diet (Dietary sources include flaxseeds, fish oil, chia seeds, walnut, fish, seafood).
Q3. Is Omega-3 good for hair also?
Answer – Taking fish oil capsules or eating Omega-3 fatty acid foods can be beneficial for hair strength and shine. In addition to this Omega-3 fatty acids keep you away from a lot of health problems and ensures proper body functioning. This healthy and regulated body functioning may promote or trigger hair growth as well.