What is Omega-3 and how much should we be getting?
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated acids commonly found in both animal and plant sources. As humans, we aren’t able to produce Omega-3, which is why it’s important to incorporate these essential fats as part of a healthy diet.
The European Food Safety Agency has set dietary reference values for Europe. For Omega-3, they’ve set a recommended daily intake of 250mg for adults.
What are the health benefits of Omega-3?
Many of us aren’t getting enough Omega-3, despite the evidence that consuming Omega-3 is vital for our health and wellbeing.
For example, Omega-3:
• Contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels
• Contributes to the normal brain and eye development of the foetus and breastfed infants if consumed by the mother
• Contributes to the normal function of the heart
• Is needed for normal growth and development of children.
Omega-3 is very important, but how can you make sure you and your family are getting enough Omega-3 in your diet and what types of food should you be eating?
We’ve put together a list of 5 sources of Omega-3 to help you understand the foods to include in your diet to keep your intakes up!
It’s well known that fish and other seafood contain high levels of Omega-3 and it’s one of the easiest ways to up your weekly intake of Omega-3. Of course there’s the option of taking supplements such as cod liver oil to increase your levels of Omega-3, but the British Dietetic Association recommend that we eat at least two portions of fish per week, one of which should be oily. Getting Omega-3 from whole foods is the most effective way to ensure optimal Omega-3 intake, and as there are so many ways to include fish and seafood into your diet, it’s a great way to improve your health.
Examples of Omega-3 in fish and seafood:
• Oily fish: Contain the highest levels of Omega-3 and are a great source of essential fatty acids. Types of oily fish containing Omega-3 include salmon, mackerel, fresh tuna and anchovies.
• White fish: Contain lower levels of Omega-3 compared to their oilier counterparts, but are a healthier alternative to red or processed meats and they’re also low in fat. Types of popular white fish containing Omega-3 include haddock and pollock.
• Shellfish: A great alternative to fish and a great way to include Omega-3 in your diet, even though they contain lower levels than oily fish. Types of shellfish containing Omega-3 include crab, mussels, oysters and shrimp.
Fish and shellfish can be cooked in a variety of ways to keep mealtimes exciting, especially if you’re looking for healthy meal ideas that your children can enjoy too. Our range of Omega-3 fish fingers are made with 100% fresh fillet with a delicious, crispy breadcrumb that’s irresistibly tasty and ideal for your Friday night fish dinner!
To boost the Omega-3 in your family’s diet, try swapping our regular fish fingers for our Omega-3 fish fingers and recreate some of our delicious everyday recipes.
Omega-3 can also be found in a variety of cooking oils, which if included as part of a healthy diet, is another effective way of adding Omega-3 to your lifestyle.
Some oils have higher Omega-3 levels than others, so if you want to make some easy diet swaps and cook with different oils, remember that flaxseed oil is the richest source. Walnut and canola oil are also good choices, if you prefer to cook with these.
Tip: As an alternative to cooking with it, why not add a drizzle of flaxseed to your salad, or dip your bread into a small amount of walnut oil instead of using butter.
Nuts and Seeds
Some nuts and seeds provide a good vegetarian source of Omega-3, which can easily be added to your daily diet. Especially good sources are flaxseeds and chia seeds, and walnuts which children can also easily enjoy!
These are especially useful Omega-3 foods, as you can enjoy them on their own as healthy snacks or include them in your home cooking. To incorporate them into your diet, why not try adding a small handful of flaxseeds and walnuts to a delicious summer super pea salad?
We all know that it’s important to eat lots of vegetables as part of a healthy diet, but very few provide Omega-3. Vegetables providing a little Omega-3 include soya beans and green leafy vegetables. Therefore, if you’re looking to boost your Omega-3 intake a little, why not try loading your plate up with lots of delicious green leafy vegetables and edamame.
Take a look at our vegetable recipe ideas for family mealtime inspiration.
Make simple swaps
When it comes to increasing your Omega-3 intake, if you’re consciously trying to consume a few more foods that are rich in Omega-3, then reaching your recommended intake should be easy!
As we’ve shown, there are a variety of different ways to include Omega-3 as part of your diet, and even if you or your family don’t enjoy fish, you can eat nuts and seeds and cook with certain oils. With the variety of healthy food options available, there’s a way for all the family to reap the health benefits of Omega-3.
If you make just a few simple swaps to your diet and eat a bit more fish, cook with the types of oils that are rich in Omega-3, and eat a few more seeds and nuts, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the benefits of a healthier diet in no time.