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WHAT ARE OMEGA-3S?

24 May 2022 Jenna Amos

Omega 3 fatty acids, commonly known as omega 3’s, make a nutrition punch, and rightfully so, but what actually are they and why are they so good for us? 

Check out some facts you can share to impress your workout crew.

 

Omega 3’s are a type of polyunstaruated fat, (think, the good kind we want more of) with 3 main groups you may have heard of: ALA, EPA and DHA. 

  • ALA are a group of omega 3’s our bodies cannot make, aka we need to get it from our diet. These are also called “essential” fatty acids and are found in oil-rich plant foods. 

  • DHA and EPA are found in ample amounts in fatty fish but vegetarians fear not, our bodies can produce DHA and EPA from the ALA found in plant foods!

Since omega 3's are an essential part of cell structure, they play a vital role in normal growth, brain and heart function by forming the building blocks of many hormones that impact everything from inflammation to blood clotting. Not having enough in our diet can lead to a deficiency with serious symptoms like dry and irritated skin and eyes, poor circulation, fatigue, mood changes including depression, and even heart problems. 


Where can you get your fill of this vital nutrient? Plant sources of essential ALA include flax seeds, walnuts and chia seeds.  Add a spoonful of flax or chia to your oatmeal and smoothies or mix with breadcrumbs to make a nutrient dense coating for fish and chicken. Fatty fish like salmon (canned included), herring and sardines pack plenty of DHA and ALA. Research cannot reach a consensus on the benefit to omega 3 supplements, so stick to food sources for the most benefit and omega 3 bang for your buck.


Aim to add food sources of omega 3’s in your diet daily to prevent deficiency and reap the many benefits! Keep chia or ground flax seed on hand (pro tip: store these in your freezer) to easily add to meals and include seafood for lunch and dinner 2-3x a week. If you’re not there already, start small and work your way up!

 

Thanks to our Contributing Dietitian, Jenna Amos, RDN, for this blog post. 

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