Getting EPA and DHA from foods and supplements is the only way to increase levels of these omega-3 fatty acids in your body.

The three main omega-3 fatty acids are (ALA), (EPA), and (DHA). ALA is found mainly in plant oils . DHA and EPA are found in fish. Getting EPA and DHA from foods and supplements is the only way to increase levels of these omega-3 fatty acids in your body. Omega-3s are important components of the membranes that surround each cell in your body. DHA levels are especially high in retina (eye), brain, and sperm cells. Omega-3s have many functions in your heart, blood vessels, lungs, immune system, and endocrine system (the network of hormone-producing glands).


Would you say that omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients for human health and welfare?

I'm Supposed to Decide, by How Much I Love You

For most of us, eating EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids is the exception rather than the rule. We can grow to love the feeling. After all, unlike eggs and dairy products, some kinds of omega-3s are not enjoyable or palatable--and they're useless if you don't have them year-round.

But these days you can find these essential nutrients in omega-3 fortified foods and supplements:

o Fish: The main type you need is found in fish oil, such as salmon. There are other types of fish-liver oils, and the process some seafood is cooked in affects the flavor and quality of these oils. The best quality supplement is the Hoki (whales who live in latitude 40 degrees S, in the Southern Ocean just off the coast of New Zealand)--rich in omega-3s and other essential nutrients. The oil is invisible in the flesh, but Rift in the brain tissue.

o Vegetable oils: When they're healthy, perishable vegetable oils don't need to be refrigerated. The problem is ensuring they're not exposed to heat, light, or air. Unfortunately, vegetable oils don't preserve well, and most manufacturers "preserve" them using high heat or solvents. One exception is coconut oil, which does not heat or bleach.

o Ground nut butters: These go heavy on the omega-3s, but don't let that fool you. Ground-up nuts are one of the best sources of the vitamin E your heart needs; heart disease is the leading cause of death each year in the US. Nuts are also one of the best sources of protein. Each day, you're getting more than your standard 3 "meals" a day.

o Whole grains: Oats, walnuts, pecans, and barley are particularly good--cemic index-rated sources of omega-3s. Oats are the best choice, though most nuts will give you some of this benefit too. Note that despite the rising popularity of whole grains, fewer than 10% of Americans over the age of 2 consume any.

oCanola oil: If you choose canola oil (or another variety there are call choice oils) for cooking, it gives you the best of both worlds: cooking and medicinal value. The oil is refined to remove the few triglycerides (fatty acids) that relate to the oil's natural flavor.

Omega-3 eggs: Eggs are, of course, the original source of omega-3 fatty acids. For the most part, they are a really great source: you get two eggs for that one can of tuna. Unfortunately, farmed and most grocery stores now buy chickens that are fed grains rather than grass, so you can't as easily get the benefits of omega-3s in eggs.

Chia seeds: Chia seeds are one of the best sources of omega-3s for vegetarians. You can get a good chia seed grocery store in any city. They are available online from Amazon.com or Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com).

Flax seeds: Sprinkle raw flax seeds on yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies. Flax is a very healthy source of omega-3s, and this form of omega-3s is highly desirable in clinical trials trials because it has a higher concentration than any other type of omega-3 at present.

Walnuts: Walnuts are one of the best sources of omega-3s. A recent study found that people with the most heart-healthy levels of omega-3s in their blood did the least amount of exercise. A personal endium on walnuts tells the story of a man who attaches walnuts to his treadmill walker in the afternoon for 15 minutes, then takes them off two weeks later to improve his balance and lower his risk for heart disease. Walnuts are currently the top source of omega-3s for walnuts.

An algae called spirulina: Spirulina is an algae that is one of the highest sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and was found to be successful in therapies aimed at lowering the triglycerides in patients with diabetes. Spirulina is considered by some to be a safe way to get omega-3s, but as a doctor I would recommend that you hold off on Spirulina supplementation until you have done a series of weight loss workouts to see if it makes a difference.

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