Heart Healthy Omega-3 Foods Belong on
Wellness means eating healthy and adding the foods rich in nutrients to your meals. One is called the omega-3 fatty acid group.
Eating more foods rich in omega-3s is a good way to help shrink health risks. The omega-3s are health superstars, say the experts. Studies have shown they boost the immune system, helping protect against illnesses including heart disease, depression, high blood pressure, inflammation inside the body and developmental problems in childhood.
But the body cannot make its own omega-3. Food is the only source. The fats come from freshwater fish and plant sources like veggies, nuts and whole grains.
It may be hard to remember what kind of fat is in each food you think about buying. Instead, make a mental grocery list. Picture in your mind walnuts, oysters, salmon, herring, mackerel and other freshwater fish, broccoli, kidney beans and spinach.
New findings about the benefits of omega-3s come at a time when warnings about possible mercury contaminants have scared some people away from fish.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it’s safe to eat 12 ounces of fish a week, but recommend staying away from shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. They also suggest you should eat no more than 6 ounces of fresh or canned albacore tuna each week. (Canned light tuna is much safer.)
Farm-raised fish are often low in mercury. Baked or boiled fish are healthier than fried, salted or dried.
You can also take supplements to get help meet your omega-3 needs. They may not have the same life-saving claims as the omega-3s you might get from food, experts say.
But these supplements, may help some people, especially those with heart disease. The American Heart Association suggests talking with the doctor about supplements before you start taking them.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois can help members learn about foods. Just log in to Blue Access for MembersSM to access the Personal Health Manager. There you'll find more tips to help you eat right. You can also use the Ask a Dietitian tool if you have questions.
Sources: National Institutes of Health, The Journal of Nutrition, Tufts University