Everyone knows that Omega-3 fatty acids are good for you. With super power abilities like lowering blood pressure, reducing triglycerides, slowing down the production of plaque in the arteries and promoting heart health no wonder everyone is trying to find ways to fit more omega-3 into their diet.
Omega-3s are an essential fatty acid that cannot be produced within the body, so we can only obtain the nutrient through our food. The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty cold water fish (like trout, tuna, sardines and salmon) at least twice a week to take in the recommended amount of omega-3. Which is a wonderful solution, if you’re a seal.
If you’re anything like myself, well-intended as I am when I purchase my fresh fish at the local market, my omega-3 rich dinners find themselves kicked to the back of the freezer while I push them aside for tastier meals. No wonder everyone has turned to artificial fish oils and supplements. There’s only so much fish a person can take! So as nutritious as they are, let’s talk alternatives.
13 Foods High in Omega 3 that Aren’t Fish
Kale, such a show-off, right? Kale is a great source of ALA-one form of omega-3 fatty acids. ALA may not be as powerful as the other omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) but what it lacks in power, it makes up for in flavor and versatility. As if kale didn’t have enough going for it already.
Flaxseed, yet another ALA master in our grocery stores, has been shown to greatly reduce high cholesterol in patients when consuming 40 to 50 grams a day. This little seed is also chock full of fiber, protein, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium.
Flaxseed can easily go undercover in your favorite muffin or bread. Just mix it in with the dough and you’ll never be the wiser! In order to release the flax seed oil responsible for carrying the omega-3s flax seeds need to be ground up so the body can access its nutrients. If you’d like to skip the grind, flaxseed meal and oil are also available and just as rich in omega-3s.
Because of some clever hen raising ingenuity, now we can enjoy our favorite protein fortified in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These eggs are the result of hens being fed flax seed and passing the ALA, EPA and DHA into their eggs for us to scramble, fry, boil and occasionally, devil.
These eggs are being fortified as a triple threat with all three omega-3 fats, some boasting as much as 225 milligrams per egg. Your average 3 egg omelet would yield as much as 675 milligrams in breakfast alone. Eggs are a particularly good vehicle of omega-3s for the pickier eaters who would happily eat their omegas sunny-side-up.
It’s important to remember that not all eggs have been fortified. If you want to make sure your egg salad can slay triglycerides as well as hunger, look for the “Omega-3 Fortified” label on your carton.
One-quarter cup of walnuts contains roughly 2.7 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. As versatile as they are tasty, walnuts are an easy addition to salads, sauteed vegetables, yogurt, stuffings, granolas, cookies, or oatmeals. Full of nutrients like magnesium walnuts have proven beneficial in fighting inflammation.
5. Winter Squash
Roasting, acorn, pumpkin and butternut squash are most commonly known for their beta-carotene, but they also concealed enough omega-3s to be number six on this list, offering about 50 mg of omega-3s per cup!
Squash is typically considered to be a starchy food, because of the starchy consistency of the meat of the plant. However, winter squashes can officially be added to the “healthy category” while still offering a viable substitute for the less helpful starches at the dinner table like pastas and potatoes.
6. Black Beans
“Beans, beans are good for the heart”-quite literally with about 1.2 grams of omegas in each eight-ounce serving.
We already knew beans pack in a load of protein, but these little unsung heroes are also full of vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, folate, copper, manganese, omegas and pantothenic acid. That is a ton of nutrients for one of the cheapest proteins on the market.
Black beans are commercially available in nearly any form you can imagine. Not only are the dried and canned beans available, but flours, powders, starches (such as black bean pasta) and even black bean vegetable burgers and alternative meats are available at almost any store.
Black beans are also one of the easiest crops to grow at home. Black beans take about 8-14 days to germinate and can be planted in a variety of climates. This plant is known for having a lucrative yield. One harvest could keep your family in all the omegas they’ll need all season.
7. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a great source of omega-3s. These little guys even pack in more omega-3s than salmon, gram for gram! The most common fatty acid found in chia seeds is the ALA. ALA is only one of three of the essential fatty acids recommended by the American Heart Association, but it’s a great source to add you your omega-3 repertoire.
Chia seeds are also full of fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B1/B2/B3, potassium, and phosphorus. We can get a substantial amount of these nutrients in only one ounce of these powerful little seeds while only consuming a single gram of carbohydrate!
As if that weren’t enough, chia seeds are a “whole grain” food, usually grown organically, naturally gluten-free and non-GMO. Chia seeds make a great addition to baked breads, yogurts, oatmeal, granola, cookies and crackers. With the versatility offered by this superfood, there really is no reason for anyone to go without the omega-3s we so sorely need.
Soybeans are known for being the protein of choice for vegetarians and anyone else looking for an alternative to animal meat. But, soybeans are also an excellent source of omega-3s boasting more omegas per gram than even coldwater fish.
Soybeans, used to make tofu, can be found to create faux chicken and beef in the frozen section of most grocery stores. These beans are also a wonderful addition to any soup, stew or burrito. Although unfortunately, soy sauce does not count as a great source of omega-3s. To the dismay of many lo mein lovers, like myself.
The World Health Organization has identified soybeans as a quality protein, able to meet all of the essential amino acid requirements of humans. So even for those who are not vegetarians, tofu has more to offer than playing dress-up as a chicken patty.
9. Canola Oil
I know, canola oil has really taken a backseat to olive oil lately because of olive oil’s constantly boasting to be the least processed oil on the market. Which is true, begrudgingly. However, canola oil can withstand higher cooking temperatures, is less expensive and contains 1,300 mg of omega 3s per tablespoon!
Typically, when people think of heart health, oil is not the first thing that comes to mind. Think again. Canola oil is higher in heart-healthy ALA than any other oil (save flaxseed oil) and is a great tool to add to your inventory in the goal of cutting cholesterol levels.
10. Wild Rice
Did you know that wild rice is actually a grass and not a grain? Now you do. Wild rice contains nearly 240 mg of omega-3 fatty acids in ½ a cup while also packing nearly twice the amount of fiber and protein as brown rice, without breaking a sweat.
But it doesn’t stop there, this little unsung hero also contains vitamin B, manganese, zinc, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium all while being (relatively) low in calories when compared to other kinds of rice. Naturally gluten-free, wild rice is harvested from long grasses that grow in Northern America and China, typically along small lakes or slow-flowing streams.
No wonder the Native American cultures, such as Ojibwa, incorporated wild rice as such an integral part of their culture. Ojibwa people named it “manoomin” translating to, “good berry”. Decades later we are beginning to understand just how good this “berry” is, as a top carrier of our omega-3s.
11. Organic Milk
For those who are still avid milk drinkers, organic milk has proven to be a reliable source of a substantial amount of omega-3s. But why organic milk and not conventional versions? Well, it all comes down to the cows.
As we’ve discussed, leafy green vegetables are the most direct and most potent source of omega-3s. Cows that are raised to produce organic milk live a life grazing on land and, true to their natural diet, eating leafy green vegetables, leaving their omega-3s naturally being passed on to us through their expressed milk. Whereas on conventional farms, cows are raised in barns and are fed grains and hormones. These cattle are bred and raised with quantity over quality in mind, producing more milk on average, with fewer health benefits for us.
The expense of the cow’s lifestyle and the lack of milk-stimulating hormones is what causes the higher price tag on organic milk. But if you’re worth your omega-3s, you’ll pony up the dough for the organic versions as they pack-in 62% more omega-3s than their conventionally processed counterparts.
12. Navy Beans
Navy beans, a little misleading as they are white and not at all “navy”. But they got their name as the US Navy served their sailors these beans since the mid-1800s. They became popular during World War II as an economical supply of food for the troops. Little did they know at the time they were doing more for our guys and gals than just filling their bellies.
1 cup of cooked navy beans contains between 200-1000 mg of omega-3s depending on their maturity. The best way to get the most from your bean is to allow them to mature to their fullest before adding them to your meal. The bean’s pentacle of maturity is a sprouted bean. That is, when the bean begins to grow little sprouts that reach out for the sunlight. This is the oldest a bean can be before becoming a plant.
Sprouting your beans before cooking them is an easy task. Just provide them a small amount of water, even a wet paper towel will suffice, and some sunlight until their cute little leaves start to surface. Sprouted navy beans pack-in the protein,fiber, thiamine, phosphorus, manganese and folate to accompany your omega-3s.
13. Hemp Seed Oil
For those that aren’t hip to the jive of hemp seed oil, it is an oil obtained by pressing hemp seeds. Cold pressed, unrefined hemp oil can range from dark to a clear, light green color and typically has a nutty flavor. This is not to be confused with Hash Oil that is made from the Cannabis flower.
Hemp seed oil is comprised of nearly 85% fatty acids. This means that the amount of omega-3s recommended for daily consumption by the American Heart Association is satisfied in only 15 ml of hemp seed oil, (for 2 of the 3 omega-3 fatty acids). Great for those who want to fit in all their omega-3s before breakfast.
This oil has also been found to contain one the highest antioxidant activity when compared with other plant-based oils. These antioxidants play a huge role in reducing the risk of cancers as they work in the body to remove free radical cells, (cells that are damaged and damaging to other healthy cells in the body).
This is not an exhaustive list of all of the foods containing omega-3s, that do not rely on gills, in our markets today. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) says that receiving our daily doses of omegas from our diet is more beneficial than even the higher-end supplements, and tastier too. Introducing a few of the aforementioned foods into your regular diet is a great way to keep your heart strong and cholesterol levels low so you can spend more time enjoying your life, and less time working to prolong it.
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