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Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids linked to many health benefits, which include reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, type II diabetes mellitus and improved mental function.  Because omega-3 fatty acids cannot be synthesized in the body, they must be obtained through diet or supplementation.  Fatty fish, fish oils, and some plant sources have the highest natural amount of omega-3 fatty acids, yet exactly which foods does this entail?

Here is a list of dietary sources high in omega-3ís:

Fish

Salmon       2,100 mg

Herring       2,000 mg

Whitefish    1,600 mg

Mackerel     1,200 mg

Sardines     1,100 mg

per 3.5 oz. of fish

Oils

Flaxseed Oil   7,200 mg

Walnut Oil     1,400 mg

Canola Oil      1,300 mg

Almond Oil     1,200 mg

per 1 T. of oil

Plant Sources

Walnuts (1 oz.)    2,600 mg

Flaxseed (1 T.)     2,200 mg

Soybeans (1 Cup)  640 mg

The American Heart Association recommends you eat fish at least two times a week, along with other omega-3 rich foods. For persons with coronary heart disease they recommend 1,000 mg per day and 2,000 - 4,000 mg per day if the person is hypertriglyceridemic.  Understand there are limitations to these recommendations and you must check with your doctor before starting any diet.

Stay tuned for a more detailed explanation of the mechanisms by which omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and a description of the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.

Written by Aaron Losey, B.A. Kinesiology, Los Angeles, CA