This is going to be a quick tutorial on omega-3 fatty acids. Just the facts. Hopefully, not too boring. Concise and to the point. Let’s get started. There is much talk about omega-3’s and their benefits on your cardiovascular system. Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the hearts of healthy people, those at risk for heart disease, and individuals who have heart disease. Studies have shown that they can decrease triglyceride levels. Elevated triglycerides puts you at higher risk for heart disease. They have also been shown to slow the growth of arterial plaque, decrease the risk of heart arrhythmias, and potentially lower blood pressure a bit. Omega-3’s assist in reducing the inflammation process that can cause or expedite the development of heart disease.
What are the different types of omega-3’s and where do we find them? Omega-3’s are found in fatty layers of cold water fish and shellfish, plants and nut oils, English walnuts, flaxseed, algae oils, and fortified foods. There are two types of omega-3’s:
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) – when looking for a supplement, make sure it contains these two.
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) found in plants. Although good for you as well, benefits appear to be not as significant as those associated with EPA and DHA.
How much should we be consuming? The American Heart Association recommends consuming fatty fish at least two times a week. What are fatty fish? These include salmon, mackerel, herring lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna. A serving is considered 3.5 ounces of cooked fish or 3/4 cup of flaked fish.
Don’t like fish and still want to get the benefits of omega-3’s? You can take fish oil supplements instead. Studies indicate that the greater benefits come from eating the actual fish. However, if you are going with a supplement you want to make sure you are taking the proper amount – 500 milligrams a day of EPA and DHA combined. I like the supplement Fisol. It contains 150 mg EPA/100 mg DHA per capsule and I take two daily to get 500 milligrams. It has a protective enteric coating which minimizes burping or regurgitation of the fish oil (yuck).
Now to the actual good stuff! I am including an amazing recipe that is delicious and nutritious. Baking fish in foil is so easy and the finished product is moist and flavorful. This recipe uses salmon but you can do this with other fish as well.
Salmon Baked in Foil (by Giada De Laurentiis)
4 (5 ounce) salmon fillets
2 teaspoons olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tomatoes, chopped, or 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, drained
2 chopped shallots
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Sprinkle salmon with 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir the tomatoes, shallots, 2 tablespoons of oil, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.
Place a salmon fillet, oiled side down, atop a sheet of foil. Wrap the ends of the foil to form a spiral shape. Spoon the tomato mixture over the salmon. Fold the sides of the foil over the fish and tomato mixture, covering completely; seal the packets closed. Place the foil packet on a heavy large baking sheet. Repeat until all of the salmon have been individually wrapped in foil and placed on the baking sheet. Bake until the salmon is just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Using a large metal spatula, transfer the foil packets to plates and serve.
Hope this helps for those of you wondering if you are getting enough omega-3’s in your diet. Here is a link with more recipes: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_omega_3_recipes
Make a conscientious effort to get more of these beneficial fatty acids in your eating repertoire. There really is no downside. If some of you are wondering about the mercury content in fish and the possible consequences associated with that here is another link for you to ponder: http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm110591.htm.
Make sure you try the above recipe and remember, everything heart health!