There's nothing wrong with opening up a can of tuna for lunch, but if that "fishy" taste doesn't sit well with you (nausea, anyone?), don't be alarmed. There are other ways to get your omega 3 fatty acids that don't involve the smelly stuff.
And, you definitely don't want to skimp on these fats, as they have been shown to lower inflammation in body, thus reducing the risk for various diseases, such as heart disease and dementia, says Rebecca Lewis, registered dietitian at HelloFresh.
What's more, "without enough omega-3's in our diet, you can experience fatigue, poor focus, memory issues, mood swings, anxiety, and depression, plus arthritis and poor circulation," she adds.
And, there are 11 different types of Omega-3 fatty acids, but the 3 that are the most important are DHA, EPA, and ALA, she says, so getting those is top priority. While DHA and EPA are mostly found in animal foods, ALA is plant-based, she explains.
So, I guess eating those omega 3's is pretty darn important, right? Here are 7 sources to include in your diet now, all fish-free.
"Soy beans have a healthy dose of omega 3 and are also a lean source of protein and fiber, a great combination for keeping you full," says Jennifer Markowitz, MS RD at Penn Medicine.
In fact, 1 cup of edamame has a whopping 17g of protein and 600 mg of omega 3 fatty acids. (Here's some info on the benefits of plant protein over animal.)
"I love buying these shelled in the frozen food section and adding them to salad or Asian-themed meals," she recommends.
2. Flax, Chia & Hemp Seeds
A perfect yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothie topper, these seeds are high in omega 3 fats to keep you fuller longer, as they're also high in fiber, too.
"These to me are notorious health food store staples that often make it onto the superfood list, but with good reason. Flaxseed can be used whole or ground and contains the antioxidants lignans, which help boost the immune system and play a role in hormone regulation, while hemp and chia are a great addition to many breakfast foods, and offer a bunch of protein and fiber," says Markowitz.
A tip? Ground and soak hemp seeds overnight for better absorption, says Lewis.
Try adding them to breakfast smoothies for immediate and sustainable energy bright and early.
3. Canola Oil
While there's nothing wrong with getting healthy fats from olive oil, canola oil actually has a high amount of omega 3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation, Markowitz.
And, it's a great cooking or baking oil, she says. Feel free to use for cooking vegetable dishes or baked goods.
But, if you are looking to branch out in the oil department, here are a few trendy oils to try out. And, they all offer tons of nutritional benefits. In fact, hemp and walnut oil even made the list (two more omega 3 options).
"One of the best foods to consume to increase your Omega 3 intake is through walnuts, as they contain over 2,000 milligrams of Omega 3’s, per cup," says Dr. Konda Reddy, based in Orlando, FL.
What's more, "walnuts also provide magnesium and selenium, other nutrients many people are deficient in, which help contribute to brain health," she adds.
And, as if that wasn't enough, they also contain antioxidant properties to fight free radicals and lower risk of cancer, she adds.
Yet, the best part? These babies clock in at a mere 190 calories, per ounce. Try adding them to a healthier trail mix recipe for easy snacking in the day.
Here's more reason to wake up with a bowl of scrambled eggs. Eggs actually have omega 3 fatty acids to improve your health, says Lewis.
However, "make sure they are eggs from chickens whose diet was enriched with EPA/DHA forms of omega-3," she explains. You can tell the difference based on the labels and packaging (as well as price, unfortunately) in store.
6. Grass-Fed Beef
Much like eggs, if beef is grass-fed, which you can also purchase in store, directly from a farmer or distributor, or even find in select, trendy steakhouses, you're getting those omega 3's.
So, while it might be a bit pricier, you're getting greater nutritional bang for your buck.
7. Dark, Leafy Greens
Make sure you're adding those greens to your plate. Green leafy vegetables and other vegetables are great, alternate sources of omega-3s.
"Dark green leafy vegetables are not known to have high levels of fat but they are good sources of omega-3 due to their balanced omega 3:-6 ratio," says Rebecca Lee, a registered nurse from New York City.
And, vegetables should be eaten raw to obtain essential fatty acids in their most efficient form, she says. (Try this kale Brussels sprouts salad for a light lunch.) Still, cooked you can still get the benefits, and vegetables are also easy additions, as they're so versatile.
A few examples? "Brussels sprouts 36.3 mg (1 sprout), watercress 7.8 mg (1 cup), romaine 6.8 mg (1 leaf); arugula 1,360 mg, kale 836 mg, or spinach 2,183 mg," she says. This is for every 200 calorie serving, she explains.
And, don't be embarrassed to supplement, either.
"For maximum absorption and to ensure you are consuming enough omega-3's if you don't like fish, get a supplement. When choosing a supplement, look for a sustainably sourced fish oil made from small fish like sardines, mackerel, and anchovies, because they deliver the purest form of oil," says Lewis.
Also, make sure the bottle is dark (this reduces oxidation, Lewis says), and that there's a supplement ratio of EPA to DHA being 2:1, she adds.
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