Shopping for Omega 3

Omega 3 fatty acids are the new health rave nowadays.  They have been found to have numerous health benefits, not the least of which is reducing the risk of heart disease.

When you go into the supermarket, you can take your pick of natural foods, fortified foods and supplements from which you can derive your daily dose of these essential fatty acids.

Choosing the best type of omega 3s

Omega 3 fatty acids are a group of three essential fats, namely DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid).

ALA, once in the body, is partially converted into DHA and EPA.  The conversion is not very efficient and has been estimated to be as low as 5%.  That is why it is highly recommended that we get more DHA and EPA in our diets.

The recommended daily dosage for omega 3s has still not been established, but 500 to 1,000 milligrams per day seem to be a safe estimate.  In a can of tuna or a few ounces of salmon, you can derive more than 500 milligrams of omega 3.  Some omega-3-fortified foods have at least 100 milligrams.

Shopping for omega 3s


Fish are the best source of DHA and EPA, both of which promotes healthier hearts and brains.  Your top choices for seafood should be: Krill, Halibut, Herring, Mackerel, Oysters, Salmon, Sardines, Trout, and regular Tuna.

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Fortified Dairies and Juices

Any food that provides health benefits beyond basic nutrition are functional foods.  A lot of foods nowadays have been fortified with omega 3 fatty acids.  The following should be on the top of your list: eggs, margarine, milk, juice, soy milk and yogurt.

Nuts and Grains

Nuts and grains are rich in omega 3s.  You should always have the following items on your shopping list:

  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Flaxseed
  • Flour
  • Granola
  • Oatmeal
  • Pancake and waffle mixes
  • Pasta
  • Peanut butter
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Pizza, packaged
  • Flour tortillas
  • Waffles
  • Walnuts

Green and Leafy Produce

The primary source for ALA, the precursor to DHA and EPA, are vegetables.  ALA fatty acids may not be as effective but green and leafy vegetables are also great sources of fiber and antioxidants, among many other things.

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kale
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Purslane
  • Spinach
  • Watercress

ALA from Oils

Some oils are also rich in ALA, which make them more beneficial than regular ones.

  • Canola oil
  • Cod liver oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Mustard oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Walnut oil

Omega 3s in Infant Food

Studies have shown that the cognitive development of infants is enhanced by omega 3s.  That is why it is important the baby’s diet is also rich in these essential fatty acids.

  • Baby cereals
  • Infant formula
  • Jarred baby food

Other Essential Choices

Omega 3 fatty acids can be derived from other sources other than natural and fortified functional foods.  You can also get your daily dose from the following:

  • Supplements
  • Gummy vitamins
  • Meal replacement bars
  • Protein powders
  • Weight loss shakes
  • Skin care creams
  • Tanning lotions
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Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Ask Your Doctor About It

A daily dose of around 3 grams per day of omega 3 in your diet is beneficial to your health.  But you should be aware that fish oil supplements have an anti-clotting factor and should be taken with doctor supervision if you are on anti-clotting drugs.  A lot of studies have associated omega 3 fatty acids with numerous health benefits, but it would do you no harm to talk to your doctor about it first, especially if you are planning on taking supplements yourself or are considering introducing them to your child’s diet.

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