Why our bodies need omega-3s

Top your oatmeal with walnuts for a daily dose of omega-3s.

Much research has shown that omega-3s are an essential nutrient for various body systems. Omega-3s are important for heart health because they can reduce the bad cholesterol in the body and lower bad fats called triglycerides. Other research has established that these essential fats can improve joint health by reducing inflammation throughout the body, which is especially important for our bodies as we age. Finally, omega-3s can improve cognition, learning and memory in both adults and children. Thus, it's vital that we try to include omega-3s in our daily diets because they aren't produced naturally by our bodies. Here are foods packed with this important fatty acid:

  • Various fish and seafood are great sources of omega-3s, including rainbow trout, wild salmon, canned albacore tuna, scallops, crab, cod and the small but mighty sardines and anchovies, both of which are also excellent sustainable options. However, when choosing fish for your diet, it's important to do some research first and balance the need for omega-3s with the fact that some fish could be high in mercury, which is especially dangerous for pregnant women.
  • Ground flax seed is another great omega-3 source. Add it to your morning smoothie, yogurt, oatmeal and even at dinner in pastas. Its subtle, nutty flavor will be easy to incorporate into many dishes, and it add a major kick of heart-healthy fatty acids to boot.
  • Walnuts are another good source. Eat a handful for a snack, add crushed walnuts to a salad or even top your oatmeal with them. They're also packed with protein.
  • Cook with soy or canola oil, or use them in your salad dressings.

It's recommended that everyone eat one omega-rich food per day, but if you have food allergies or can't for other reasons, there are more ways to get omega-3s in your foods. Try enriched eggs, available at most grocery stores, or a fish oil supplement.

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