Learn why the omega-3 benefits of fish make it a cornerstone of my eating plan for optimal health.
I have followed the research on fish as a cardio-protective and anti-aging agent for 30 years. What makes fish so important to any healthy heart nutrition plan is the fact that it is a natural source of omega-3 benefits, as well as omega-6 fatty acids.
As you may know, both omega-3 and omega-6 are called essential fatty acids (EFAs) because they are necessary for life itself. Our bodies can’t manufacture EFAs, but you can get them through the food you eat. Omega-6 EFAs occur naturally in almost all nuts and seeds, and are abundant in vegetable oils, including safflower, sunflower, corn, and soy.
Omega-3 benefits are a bit more challenging to get from food because there are few original sources. The best sources for omega-3s are flaxseed, hemp, pumpkin seed oils, dark leafy green vegetables, walnuts, tofu, and fish.
The source I prefer above all others is fish, especially salmon. Fish convert the omega-3 building block, linolenic acid, into two highly beneficial end products for our bodies: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) omega-3s. EPA and DHA are great for rejuvenating the body at the cellular level, with DHA omega-3 benefits providing the most support for heart health.
The chart below shows the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in some of the most popular fish to eat:
Grams of EFAs
|Alaskan King Crab*||0.46|
|Yellow Fin Tuna**||0.31|
|Light Tuna (canned in oil, drained)**||0.20|
|Atlantic Cod *||0.17|
|Tuna (canned in water, drained)**||0.95|
* These fish are safe to eat two or three times a week.
** These fish are safe to eat once a month.
I encourage you, just as I encourage my private patients, to eat fish as often as possible, but please govern yourself according to the guidelines I’ve shared in this chart. While fish is a “wonder food” in my book, you must be careful to eat the right type of fish.
Of course, if you are not a fan of fish, omega-3 supplements are an equally good source of omega-3 benefits. Algae and calamari oil supplements have higher DHA than most fish oil supplements. There are other algae and calamari oil benefits: they are sustainably sourced and carry less risk of mercury or other contaminants compared to some fish oils.