Learn why the omega-3 benefits of fish make it a cornerstone of my eating plan for optimal heart 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-3s and omega-6s 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 you can also get them from ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil, black currant oil, evening primrose oil, and borage oil.
Get more of Dr. Sinatra's advice on Omega-3s
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, and fish.
The source I prefer above all others is fish, especially wild 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.
Of course, if you are not a fan of fish, omega-3 supplements are an equally good source of omega-3 benefits. As a cardiologist, I like algae and calamari oil supplements because they have higher DHA than most fish oil supplements. Also, algae and calamari supplements are sustainably sourced and carry less risk of containing mercury or other contaminants when compared to some fish oils.
I encourage you 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.