How Does Omega 3 Work? The Lowdown on the Heart Healthy Fat

What is Omega 3?

Omega 3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids.  In layman’s terms, it is a fat that our body can’t produce so we need to eat it.  Unlike most fats, it is very healthy for our body.
Why Is It Good For You?
Because the Inuits said so!  In Greenland, a tribe of Inuits were studied by medical professionals in the 70s.  These doctors found something pretty amazing – no one had any cardiovascular problems.
How is that possible since one of the biggest killers in the world was heart disease?  It was in their food!  The one thing they ate that the rest of the world didn’t was high levels of Omega 3.  Since then, many more studies have been shown that Omega 3 is great for heart and blood health.
Omega 3s, at their most basic level, help with growth, healthy blood pressure, and maintaining healthy veins and arteries.

What Foods Have Omega 3?
Salmon, Halibut, Cod, Flax Seeds, Walnuts, Mustard Seeds, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Dried Ground Oregano, and Cooked Soybeans.
Green leafy vegetables are good sources of ALA (read below).  The same goes for nuts and seeds.  Fish and any other seafood product will have good levels of EPA and DHA.  So visit the produce section at your grocery store and stock up!
With fish, be cautious of Mercury.  FDA.Gov has a lot of great resources with listings of mercury content in fish.  Stay away from high trophic level seafood, like sharks and swordfish.  The safest fish to eat with high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids is salmon.  On a side note, salmon has high levels of protein, which is good news for anyone on a healthy diet or looking to get into shape.
What is the Best Omega 3 Supplement?
There are three types of Omega 3s:  EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid).  Basically, EPA and DHA are longer chains, which is more healthy than the ALA, a short chain acid.  Long chain Omega 3s come from fish and certain types of algae.  Luckily for us, we can also buy Omega 3 in supplement form from the vitamin store.
The best supplements should contain all three of the fatty acids.  Fish is the best source, so taking a fish oil supplement is the best way to get your Omega 3 fatty acids.  Wal-mart and Costco have the best prices for these.
One problem with fish oil supplements is the taste.  Since it comes from fish, you can have a fishy aftertaste all day long.  I learned some tricks to keep this at bay. First, don’t take a supplement before a date.  Second, try taking it with a tablespoon of lime juice, which helps neutralize the oil’s scent.  Another good trick is to keep the fish oil cool by putting it in your fridge or freeze.  When it’s cold, the scent is muted dramatically.
Also, Wal-Mart sells lemon scented fish oil supplements.  To me, these taste horrible, but there is little after taste, which I prefer.

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