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What Is Omega 3?
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the essential fatty acids which the body needs to utilize and cannot produce on its own. Despite the word ‘fat’ they are vital for supporting our body’s health.
There are many benefits to consuming omega-3 in your diet and just one of these great benefits is that they can help to regulate blood clotting. Our blood clotting ability is important for maintaining a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. In addition, it can help to curb inflammation in the body and this can be useful when attempting to prevent disease.
Besides taking a fish oil supplement each day, you can also find many great sources of omega-3 in different tasty and nutritious foods which you could choose to include as part of a healthy and balanced diet. From fish right through to nuts and vegetables, omega-3’s are in a wide variety of foods. The below five examples are just some of my favorite sources of these fatty acids which I try to include in my diet on a regular basis for optimum health.
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1. Oily Fish
From sardines to salmon and mackerel to cod, fish are a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids. Even trout and tuna contain this rich fish oil and are worth adding to your weekly food shop.
Current health guidelines recommend that one should consume between two to three portions of oily fish per week. If you want some variety when eating fish then instead of having fish and chips, try sushi or even making your own tuna or mackerel sandwiches for a change. Fish does not have to be boring because there are so many different varieties out there for you to try.
For example, I recently rediscovered the salty and fresh taste of mackerel which I really enjoy. The next time you do your weekly shop at the supermarket then why not pick up a new type of fish that you have not tried before to cook for your family. You never know, you may be pleasantly surprised! The great thing is that fish is very healthy for the body, unlike red meat for example which we lack the digestive enzymes to break down fully.
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Walnuts and walnut oil are perhaps not the first food one may think of when it comes to omega-3. However, even the consumption of as little as 4 walnuts per day has been shown to increase the blood content of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is fantastic for helping to improve the body’s cardiovascular functions, including reducing ones blood pressure. In addition, there is some evidence that walnuts can aid memory loss and research suggests their ability to help lower Type 2 Diabetes.
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Try adding some freshly diced walnuts to a chicken salad or sprinkle some on natural yogurt with honey for added crunch. You could bake with walnuts too and make carrot and walnut cake for example. Finding inventive ways to incorporate walnuts into your diet is easy because they can go equally as well in both sweet and savory dishes.
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If you have never been a fan of eating your greens as a child and this habit carried through to the present, then why not make a consciously healthy change to try broccoli again today! I love the smell of fresh broccoli that is released when I cut sections of florets away from the main stalk. You really cannot beat the taste of eating fresh vegetables over frozen ones. Not only this but fresh broccoli is packed full of great nutritional benefits which you can reap more of when they are fresh and have not gone through the freezing process.
Whilst broccoli is certainly not one of the highest containing omega-3 vegetables available, it is still up there and has a great combination of vitamins in addition to its omega-3 fatty acid content. Broccoli is high in vitamin C and K as well as fiber. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can even help to lower cholesterol levels in the body.
Steaming broccoli is one of the best ways to help preserve its vitamin content. However, on the other hand lightly stir-frying it can help to give a more crunchy and fresh taste. Why not try out both methods and see which you prefer today.
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In a similar way to broccoli, cauliflower is also part of the cabbage family and contains high levels of vitamin C and K. Cauliflower has an ever so slightly higher lead on broccoli in terms of its omega-3 content, but both are equally valid sources of this essential fatty acid. In addition to aiding digestion, cauliflower can help improve cardiovascular health and has anti-inflammatory properties.
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I believe that the humble cauliflower is quite an under-rated vegetable and that many people overlook it in favor of broccoli or carrots for example. However, have you ever tried cauliflower cheese or blending it into a vegetable soup before? You could even include it on a dipping platter with carrots and crunchy red, yellow and green peppers to add some variety. Cauliflower is available all year around in supermarkets so there is no excuse not to attempt to liven up your usual vegetable routine with this tasty alternative.
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I have included flaxseeds in this article because although they only contain one of the three omega-3 fatty acids, this still brings with it many great health benefits. They are also not as commonly consumed in the way that pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds often are. Therefore, it gives you scope to try out something new and to add variety to your diet if you wish to.
Flaxseeds can be incorporated into foods in many different forms. For example, you could bake bread rolls, muffins or even cakes using them. You could sprinkle them raw on yogurts or cereals as well. In addition, by adding flaxseeds to your baking routine you can actually lower the glycemic index of the bread and it will have a greater antioxidant capacity than if you had not included the seeds. It also provides a variety in both texture and taste which can be an added bonus from eating the usual everyday breads and cakes which you may already consume.
Another great point is that recent research has shown that heating flaxseeds up to high oven temperatures such as 150 degrees-centigrade does not reduce the alpha-linolenic acid or ALA content of them. (ALA is simply one of three omega-3 fatty acids mentioned earlier which can be used by the body. It is most commonly found in plant oils).
Other great sources of omega-3’s include spinach, soybeans, oysters and even chia seeds. As there are so many different varieties of food groups which contain omega-3, there is hopefully something out there to suit everyone’s tastes. Considering the excellent health benefits of omega-3 in our food is surely the way forwards to improving our health in the long run, today.