Omega-3 is not the name of one of those planets from Star Trek with the ankle-deep fog and papier-mâché boulders. Nor is it something you were supposed to remember when they told you about the Periodic Table of Elements in high school (just there, next to Bismuth). It is, most likely, the best thing for your heart… since love. Both are essential to continued good life.
Perhaps you’ve heard it referred to by the long name, polyunsaturated fatty acids? Omega-3s are a natural barrier against heart disease because they lower your blood pressure and keep high cholesterol in check. They also play a crucial role in brain function and body growth, which isn’t a bad side effect, either.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids. That means a healthy body has to have them, but does not manufacture them. Therefore, omega-3 fatty acids have to come from what we eat. And they’re pretty easy to include in even the strictest of diets. There are ample quantities in fish, dark leafy green vegetables, soybeans, navy beans, kidney beans, winter squash, tofu, flaxseed, pumpkinseed, olive oil, and nuts like walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts. They’re just as easily added to a meal as a supplement in capsule form.
One of the best ways to prevent and treat heart disease is to eat a low-fat diet and to replace foods rich in saturated and trans-fat with those rich in polyunsaturated fats (including omege-3 fatty acids). By inhibiting the development of plaque and blood clots, which clog arteries and lead to heart attacks, omega-3s may actually save your life. Clinical studies of heart attack survivors show that daily omega-3 fatty acid supplements dramatically reduce the risk of death, subsequent heart attacks, and stroke.
Call it the miracle ingredient. Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent the risk of heart disease, cancer, and arthritis, reducing inflammation, improving memory (remember what mom used to say about fish being the “brain food”?), and are even championed as a salvation for diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
How much is enough?
If you eat fish, two meals a week is enough to gain your required amount of omega-3s, but if fish doesn’t please your palette, substitute the following:
At least 2-4 servings of the following foods each day:
* 1/2 Tablespoon freshly ground flaxseed
* 1/2 teaspoon flaxseed oil
* 1/2 cup soybean
* 2 Tablespoons walnuts
* 2 teaspoons canola oil
* 6 oz. firm tofu
* 10 cups dark leafy green vegetables