Monday, November 16, 2015

Shopping List for Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Next time you are at the grocery store add some foods high in Omega 3s to your cart.  Here are some ideas

 Fish: An Excellent Source
Cold-water fish has the highest amount of DHA and EPA, the two fatty acids closely linked to heart health. The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings per week of salmon, tuna, herring, lake trout, sardines, or similar fatty fish. Why? Studies show that the omega-3s DHA and EPA lower triglycerides, fats in your blood that can lead to blocked arteries. And omega-3s can also help reduce the risk of irregular heartbeats.

Flaxseeds, Flaxseed Oil, and Other Seeds
Flaxseeds have high amounts of ALA omega-3s. But you have to grind them right before you eat them to get all of their benefits.  Flaxseed oil is another good source of this omega-3. Poppy, pumpkin, and sesame seeds also have plant-based omega-3s, but in much smaller amounts. Try tossing them into oatmeal, breads, and salads.  Try adding toasted flaxseeds to salads, soups, and sandwiches for a pleasant crunch.

Whole flaxseeds grind easily in a coffee grinder if you wish to process your own. Ground flaxseed is often sold as “milled flax,” “flaxseed flour” or “flaxseed meal.” Flax oil, flax oil pills and ground flax pills are also available. The oil lacks the protein and fiber of the ground seeds.

Ground flaxseeds mix with several foods unnoticed. Use 1 or 2 tablespoons in oatmeal, yogurt, a smoothie, cold cereal, sprinkled over a sandwich or mixed in a salad. Ground flaxseeds mix with batters and dough and hardly influence the consistency. Several cracker, cookie and muffin recipes use flaxseeds as their main flavor if you wish to base a dish around it. The taste of flaxseed is unappetizing to some.

Chia seeds are touted as the new super food, being high in protein as well as Omega 3s.  They can be added to many casseroles or soups and used as a thickener like tapioca.  Add some crunch to yogurt or oatmeal by sprinkling on chia seeds.  Remember once they sit in liquid for a while, they form little gelatinous balls. If you don't like that texture, sprinkle them on just before eating. Just 1 tablespoon of chia seeds gives you 5 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein, as well as magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, and omega-3s, and has just 60 calories.
Most nuts have Omega 3s, but walnuts have the most.  It's easy to add walnuts to a morning bowl of cereal or some snack-time trail mix.  Add to breads and cookies or make candied walnuts.  Not fond of walnuts, try pecans or hazelnuts they are also a good source of Omega 3s.

Pinto, Kidney or Soy Beans
Mix edamame (green soybeans), pinto, or kidney beans into soups, chili, and salads to boost your intake of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA.  The body can change some plant-based ALA into EPA and DHA, too, so you will get bonus benefits.

Enhanced Eggs
Chickens fed a diet high in Omega 3 will produce eggs high in Omega 3s.  You can find omega-3-enhanced eggs in many grocery stores. They tend to have darker yolks than regular eggs. The omega-3 fatty acid DHA is in yolks only; egg whites don’t have fatty acids.  Enjoy the whole egg for breakfast, and you'll start your day with the health benefits of omega-3s, including protecting your heart and possibly lowering the risk of memory loss.

Healthy Oils
Choose oils that are high in omega-3s for sautéing, baking, and dressing salads. Canola, soybean, and walnut oils are all good choices. Just remember that while omega-3s are good fats, oils are still high in calories, so keep an eye on how much you use. And don't worry: High cooking heat won't destroy their benefits.

Soy Foods: Tofu, Edamame, and More
Grocery shelves are full of foods made from soybeans: tofu, miso, tempeh, soy milk, and edamame. Soy products have many benefits, including the plant-based fatty acid ALA. Swap soy-based vegetable protein for ground meat in chili, add edamame to your casserole and stir fries, use soy milk in smoothies, and snack on roasted soybeans to boost omega-3s.

Omega-3 Supplements
Most Americans don’t get enough omega-3s in their diets. It’s best to get them from foods, but supplements may help fill in the gaps. You can choose from fish oil capsules or vegetarian-friendly supplements made from algae. Recommended daily doses vary from 500 milligrams to 3 grams, but ask your doctor about how much you should take. If you take high doses of them along with a blood thinner, you may have a higher risk of bleeding. Too much omega-3 also can make some medications not work as well.

Spinach, Kale, and Leafy Greens
Another reason to eat leafy greens: They have the omega-3 fatty acid ALA. A spinach salad, a side of sautéed collard greens, and lettuce on a sandwich all boost your intake. That’s good because fatty acids don’t just promote heart health. Studies now suggest they may help other conditions, including cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.

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