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by Shauna Schultz, Diet.com Contributor and Registered Dietitian
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, American Dietetic Association, American Heart Association and many other health organizations call for eating more Omega-3 rich foods.
So, what are these Omega-3 fatty acids and where can we find them? In this blog, we'll give you the scoop on Omega-3 fatty acids.
What are they?
These essential fatty acids are building blocks of fat - our body can't produce them so we must obtain them from our diet. Another essential fatty acid, Omega-6, is readily obtained in our diet. However, Americans may benefit from increasing the amount of Omega-3's and lowering the Omega-6's in their diet to improve the balance to an optimum level.
Why are they good?
Omega-3's are believed to lower the risk of heart disease, reduce the risk of dying from a heart attack, boost immunity and reduce artery inflammation. They may even benefit other inflammatory diseases such as Alzheimer's and arthritis and lower blood pressure, along with reducing the effects of mood disorders.
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats and can raise "good" or HDL cholesterol when substituted for saturated and trans fats in the diet.
Where are they found?
There are three types of Omega-3 fatty acids. Two are found mostly in coldwater fatty fish, such as albacore tuna, salmon, lake trout, herring and mackerel. They are excellent sources of EPA and DHA. The third type of Omega-3 fatty acid is Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA). ALA is found in plant sources such as soy (like tofu and soybeans), canola oil, walnuts and walnut oil, flaxseed oil and flaxseed. ALA can become Omega-3 in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids can also be found in fish oil supplements. Obtaining them from food is best, but if you can't get them from food, discuss a fish oil supplement with your doctor.
EPA and DHA are more readily absorbed and offer more of a health benefit than ALA which has to be converted ... Continue
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