We all know that there are a ton of great nutrients that you should be working into your diet – and today we’re focusing on a big one – Omega-3s. Found in both foods and supplements, omega-3 fatty acids are a vital fat source that help support your health in a lot of big ways. We’re breaking it all down. Read on for all the details!
What are Omega-3s?
Omega-3s are a type of fatty acid. In layman’s terms? They’re a healthy fat source! There are three different types of omega-3 fats:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): this is the type most commonly found in most of our diets, and is found in plant sources like kale, spinach, walnuts, and chia seeds. ALA is a precursor of EPA and DHA, but this conversion process is very inefficient in humans. Only a small percentage of ALA is converted into EPA, and even less into DHA. If ALA is not converted, it’s simply used for energy like other fat and calorie sources.
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): Not only is DHA a structural component of your skin and the retinas of your eyes, but it’s also vital for brain development and function. DHA has a lot of other benefits too, including the potential to improve arthritis, some cancers, high blood pressure, and even reduce triglycerides and LDL (good news for heart health!). You can find DHA in seafood and in some grass-fed animal foods.
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): EPA plays a crucial role in decreasing inflammation, since it produces signaling molecules (called eicosanoids) which help reduce inflammation and fill other important physiological functions as well. Adequate EPA can even help improve symptoms of depression. You can find EPA in foods like salmon, herring, shrimp, and grass-fed meats and dairy.
It’s especially important for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to make sure they’re getting enough omega-3s, because of how DHA positively affects the health and intelligence of the baby. A lot of studies also show that enough omega-3s in your diet can help protect against many illnesses including breast cancer, depression, ADHD, and more.
Benefits of Omega-3s
There are a lot of health benefits associated with omega-3s, some of which we highlighted above. But we’re all for giving you the entire scoop, so we’ve made a full list of benefits below:
- Help improve symptoms of depression
- Promote brain health during pregnancy and early life
- Improve eye health
- Help to fight anxiety
- Can reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome
- May help prevent cancer
- Reduce symptoms of ADHD (specifically in children)
- Improve risk factors for heart disease
- Raise good cholesterol levels
- Reduce blood pressure
- Prevent plaque that would damage arteries
- Reduce triglycerides
- Prevent formations of blood clots
- Reduce inflammation
- Help to improve mental disorders
- Fight autoimmune diseases
- Improve bone and joint health
- Can reduce asthma in children
- Help to fight age-related mental decline
- May reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- May help prevent cancer
- Can help to improve sleep
- Benefit your skin health
- Alleviate menstrual pain
Foods that contain Omega-3s
Ready to add these healthy omega-3 fats to your diet? Here’s how to incorporate them into your meals:
- Flax seed
- Brussels sprouts
- Omega 3-enriched eggs
- Hemp seeds
- Meats and dairy products from grass-fed animals
- Cod liver oil
- Chia seeds
- Omega-3 supplements!
A note on omega-3 supplements: quality really matters here, as the majority of options on the market are either rancid by the time they hit the shelves or not as potent as they should be. Consult your doctor or head to a local health food store that stocks high-quality options.
Ready to start improving your health with the addition of omega-3 fats? We suggest you start with our Cod Piccata or Almond-Crusted Salmon. Not a big fan of seafood? Consider an omega-3 supplement to pair with your Snap Kitchen meal. What are you waiting for? Start feeling better, both physically and mentally, with omega-3s today!