More and more research is supporting the important role that omega- 3's play in reducing the risk of heart disease including heart attack and stroke. In fact, the American Heart Association's Dietary Guidelines suggest that increasing our consumption of these fats can help prevent cardiovascular disease, specifically by lowering serum triglyceride and blood pressure levels. Plain and simple, omega-3's are good for the heart!
Omega-3's are a type of essential polyunsaturated fat. Essential means that the body needs them for basic functions, but cannot make them, and therefore must be consumed in the diet. There are three types of omega-3's:
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
To reduce the risk of heart disease, the American Heart Association recommends consuming 2 serving of fatty fish (8 oz total) per week or 1 gram of omega-3's per day. As a reference, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds or ground flaxseed has about 2 grams, 1 ounce of salmon has about 0.75 grams, and 1 teaspoon of canola oil has about 0.5 grams.
Unsure of how to add more omega-3's to your diet? Try adding a handful of walnuts to your oatmeal or a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to your smoothie in the morning. Replace two of your usual meat dinners with salmon or another fatty fish. You could also make your own salad dressing using walnut oil! Keep in mind that both flaxseed oil and walnut oil are heat sensitive and not meant to be
For more information on the benefits of omega-3's check out www.eatright.org or www.heart.org.