what do fish, greens, flaxseed and walnuts have in common?

Got any good guesses?

Fish, leafy greens, flaxseeds and walnuts are all dynamite sources of omega-3 fatty acids or what I like to call "SUPER POWERS."

Omega-3 fats are used by the body for many critical functions including blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of blood vessels, and healthy gene expression. In fact, the omega-3 fats found in fish are proven to decrease high blood pressure, lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and reduce chronic inflammation associated with heart disease. No doubt - these foods have super powers!

There are two types of omega-3 fatty acids. The first type, mostly found in fatty fish, is called EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The second type, found in greens, flaxseeds and walnuts, is called ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Although these fats are slightly different molecularly, all three are critical for optimal health. The problem is our bodies can’t actually make these fats. Alas!

This is where YOU come in! If you want to help your heart beat regularly, your blood vessels pump efficiently and your cells to express only good genes (not the bad ones), then it’s time to get smart and start adding omega-3 fatty acids to your daily diet.

Here are some top sources of omega-3 fatty acids:
Wild fish: salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies
Krill oil (extracted from plankton)
Cod liver oil
Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
Chia seeds
Pasture-raised eggs
Grass-fed beef
Leafy greens: brussels sprouts, kale, spinach

Which omega-3 food sources could you add to your daily diet or weekly meal plan? To make omega-3s like an old hat in your daily routine, start simple and build on a behavior you already do.

For example, I like to toss a serving of walnuts (1/4 cup)and freshly ground flaxseed (1 Tbs.) in my morning oatmeal. But if you’re not an oatmeal kind of person, can you switch your eggs to pasture-raised eggs? While they cost a bit more, they contain 2x the omega-3 fatty acids as conventional eggs, plus a ton of other healthy benefits.

Your ultimate goal is to add one serving of a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet each day. But, this is your ultimate goal - remember to start small and build weekly until you reach the daily intake goal.

Research on the benefits of regular omega-3 fatty acid consumption is continuously evolving, thus your new habit will become more and more valuable to good health. For example, the latest evidence shows a link between omega-3 fatty acid consumption and reduced risk of common neurological diseases like alzheimer’s.

Rock the omega-3s!

Alterman, Tabitha (2008, October 15) Eggciting News!!!. Retrieved February 3, 2015, from http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/pastured-eggs-vitamin-d-content.asp

Clancy, Kate. (2006, March). Greener pastures: How grass-fed beef and milk contribute to healthy eating. Retrieved February 3, 2015 from http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/foodandagriculture/greener-pastures.pdf

Daley, C. A., Abbott, A., Doyle, P. S., Nader, G. A., & Larson, S. (2010). A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutrition Journal, 9(1), 10. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-10

Harvard School of Public Health. (n.d.) Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution. Retrieved February 3, 2015, from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3-fats/

McGuire, Michelle & Beerman, Kathy A. (2009). Nutritional sciences: From fundamentals to food. California: Wadsworth Inc.

Sacks, Dr. Frank. (n.d.) Ask the Expert: Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Retrieved February 3, 2015, from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3/