Foods Containing Omega 3 Fatty Acids.

By Melanie Caplan

Such encouraging news has generated a good deal of interest in Omega 3 of late.

The distinction between foods containing omega 3's and omega 6's is made, because the average diet contains too many omega 6 foods and not enough omega 3 foods. Many people consume ten times the amount of omega 6 as omega 3 (some as much as 30 times). This is a recipe for a health disaster.

As the health reputation of the Omega-3s grows, food manufacturers have explored the opportunity of fortifying everyday foods with Omega-3s. Omega-3 eggs are increasingly available; for example, bread fortified with 13mg of Omega-3 DHA per slice is now available in New Zealand and Australia. Malaysia has a cracker fortified with vitamins, minerals and both Omega-3 and Omega-6 EFAs and a similarly fortified margarine serves as a fine accompaniment.

Omega 3 is most commonly associated with the oils found in fish. Best known sources are mackerel, trout and salmon although the oils can be extracted from white fish; and the liver of the Cod is particularly rich as well. The American Heart Association recommends a daily intake of 1000 mg. of Omega-3 for measurable health benefits in cardiovascular care. There are various ways of including Omega 3's in your diet so you need not worry if you are not a big fan of fish.

When it comes to meat, good omega 3 foods are: organic eggs (look for ones that say high omega 3 content on the label, which you can find at most supermarkets nowadays); and look to purchase grassfed meats -- such as grassfed beef, chicken, lamb, etc. These are much more pricy than typical store bought meats -- you have to go to specialty stores or your local farmer's market usually to find them.

The benefits of Omega 3 will continue to grow in importance as the population ages and looks for ways to maintain healthy and active lifestyles. Currently, Omega 3's are easy enough to buy from online companies and specialized pharmacies but it surely won't be long before Americans will be able to choose the supplement that suits them best from the shelves of local supermarkets and convenience stores.

The most common form of supplement is the capsule formulated from concentrated oils derived from those fish that have the high Omega 3 levels. Generally, the tablet will contain something around fifty percent from that source (fish) with the balance made up of other sources of fatty acids.

The most common foods containing omega 3 fatty acids of the long chain variety are fish. Because of mercury contamination risks, doctors and environmental experts make the following recommendations: avoid fish that come from the Atlantic Ocean which is particularly polluted.

In short, the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 oils is way off kilter for optimal health.

Omega 3's can also be found in a wide range of other foods including vegetables and processed foods; however, the levels are negligible and provide no significant health benefits. Vegetarian Omega-3 supplements are available, usually as flaxseed (linseed) oil.

Since the omega 3 foods list or foods containing omega 3 fatty acids is so short, an omega 3 supplement containing purified fish oil may be the best choice for a healthy diet.

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