What do a can of sardines, avocado oil from the health store, and seaweed from the beach have in common? They all contain omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats are important for long-term health, and our bodies can’t make them, so we need to eat food that contains them.
We’ve known for a while that omega-3 fats are important for lowering your risk of heart disease—by reducing blood pressure and inflammation, helping to keep blood vessels from stiffening, preventing blood clots, and lowering triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood). They’re also important for brain and eye development during pregnancy and infancy. More studies are needed to know if omega-3 fats might help rheumatoid arthritis, mental health, or other diseases.
Where can you get omega-3 fats?
The best place to get omega-3 fats is from food. Fatty fish have the highest amounts of EPA and DHA, the omega-3 fats most important for health. Fatty fish include salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout Arctic char, and herring. Try to eat at least 2 servings of fish a week to get the recommended intake of 0.5 g per day.
If you don’t eat fish, try kelp and seaweed. (Instead of combing beaches for it, you can buy seaweed as wakame.)
Some people may have trouble meeting their EPA and DHA needs from food. If you’re thinking about taking a supplement, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or a dietitian before you begin. They can tell you about what type of supplement to take and how much would be best for you. If you decide to take a supplement, choose one that contains EPA and DHA, not other fats (like ALA). Also, look for one with a Drug Identification Number (DIN) or a Natural Product Number (NPN) on the bottle.