Some fats are said to be “essential” for humans because the body can not synthesize them themselves. Among them, omega-3 fatty acids are known for their beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. To consume them, there is no need to resort to food supplements: some foods contain enough of them. In this article, you will discover which ones.
1. Canola oil
Rapeseed oil (canola) is a source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a short chain fatty acid of the omega-3 family. Alpha-linolenic acid can not be produced by the body: it is called “essential” because it must necessarily be provided by the diet.
In the body, short-chain fatty acids can be converted into long-chain fatty acids. These are beneficial for cardiovascular health. But the conversion rate remains low (from 1 to 3%). This is why it is imperative to eat foods rich in long chain omega-3.
2. The walnut
The walnut has a particularly high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids, more than 70% of its total lipids. Nearly one-fifth of these acids are short-chain essential omega-3 fatty acids.
Its omega-3 versus omega-6 ratio is ideal, but it does not contain long-chain omega-3s.
It is better to buy the walnuts in their hulls: the unsaturated fats of walnuts sold shelled oxidize more easily.
3. The mackerel
Mackerel is an excellent source of long-chain omega-3s (EPA and DHA).
These are the most beneficial to the body. They are known to reduce blood pressure, triglycerides and blood clots, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Mackerel is one of the richest fish in EPA and DHA. A 100 g portion of mackerel provides about 1.2 g, which is more than twice the daily recommendation.
4. Hemp oil
Hemp seeds are a unique source of omega-3. Of course, the food version (cannabis sativa) does not contain THC, a highly psychotropic molecule.
Hemp oil contains not only omega-3 “short chain” found in other vegetable oils but also SDA (medium chain). These are assimilated much more easily by the body. It is found on sale in organic or natural shops at a very high price.
5. The chia seeds
Chia seeds are rich in dietary fiber and so-called “good fats”. They contain ~15% of Omega-3 in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
They also contain 7 to 9% gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), an Omega-6 that is difficult to synthesize by the body. In contrast, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are not part of their composition.
They can be eaten as is, grinded into recipes or sprinkled on dishes.
6. Linseed oil
Linseed oil contains a large amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a short-chain omega-3 fatty acid. Practitioners advise taking one tablespoon a day to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Flaxseed oil can turn rancid very easily. Keep it in the refrigerator and consume it quickly once the container is opened. Buy small quantities at a time and opt for opaque containers.
7. The shrimp
Like fatty fish, shrimp contains EPA and DHA, two long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids from the omega-3 family. The amount of omega-3 present in shrimp varies from one species to another. Thus, analysis conducted in Quebec show that northern shrimp contain three to five times more EPA and DHA than farmed shrimp imported from Asia.
A 75 g serving of northern shrimp provides 300 mg of EPA and DHA.
Preserved in virgin olive oil, sardines are a delicacy, sought after by gourmets. Its high fat content makes it one of the best sources of long-chain omega-3. Like most oily fish, it contains EPA and DHA. A portion of 100 g of sardines provides about 1 g.
To fully benefit from the virtues attributed to omega-3 fatty acids, avoid cooking fish too long.
9. Corn salad
Naturally rich in omega-3, corn salad is among the best sources of ALA. It has 200 to 360 mg of short-chain omega-3 for a 100g serving.
This fragile little plant should be seasoned when serving. Prefer a sweet oil (walnut oil for example) and add only very little vinegar or lemon. Other green vegetables like cabbage or lettuce also contain omega-3s.
10. The egg
Omega-3 eggs are identical to conventional eggs in terms of fat, protein and cholesterol content. Only the omega-3 content changes. These eggs are made in a natural way: flax seeds are added to the chicken’s diet.
The hen will turn some of the short-chain omega-3s in flaxseeds into long-chain omega-3s (which are abundant in oily fish).