Oily fish, such as salmon and tuna, are excellent sources of omega-3.
Omega 3 Fast Facts
Foods: oily fish such as salmon, tuna, catfish; vegetable oils such as flaxseed, canola, soybean; organic milk, eggs & cheese
Nutritional & health benefits: anti-inflammatory action beneficial to heart & circulatory system, joints & bones, vision
Why the fuss over omega-3 fatty acids?
They are often called "essential" fatty acids (EFAs) since researchers have found that children need these nutrients in their diet to maintain health and normal growth patterns.
For adults, the most substantial health benefits provided by omega-3 fatty acids are related to the heart and circulation. In numerous studies, researchers have found that omega-3 fatty acids lower the risk of heart attack, improve circulation, reduce high blood pressure, and help to break down fibrin, which is a compound that contributes to the formation of scars and clots.
Several studies have demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acids have a neuroprotective effect, meaning they help protect the brain and nervous system. This effect is particularly important for those who have either Parkinson's disease or Alzheimer's disease. Both of these diseases cause the breakdown of nerve cells, and omega-3 fatty acids protect against this degenerative effect.
For the same reason, there is also evidence to suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial to those suffering from depression and anxiety.
In related studies, omega-3 fatty acids also show benefits for child
development and in improving cognition. In one study, children who had been selected specifically for their poor learning in school were given large doses of omega-3 fatty acids daily. The researchers then asked parents to rate their children's performance 15 weeks and 30 weeks after the study started. The result was that the children taking omega-3 fatty acids did significantly better on a whole range of measures of learning and cognitive ability.
There is also limited evidence to suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial to cancer patients. Results have been quite mixed,
but there are many studies that show omega-3 fatty acids do help combat cancer. Specifically, there have been studies that show clear
health benefits to those suffering from colon cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer.
The vast majority of people do not get nearly enough omega-3 fatty acids in their diet, and so supplements are certainly a good idea.
By eating a diet rich in fish, nuts, eggs, meat and dairy products, most people can get enough of the combination of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that add up to what are known as omega-3 fatty acids. You may also find them referred to as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) because they are made up of chains of polyunsaturated fat molecules.
Organic eggs, milk and cheeses have a much higher amount of essential fatty acids. Moreover, grain fed cows tend to produce milk with less of these essential nutrients than cows allowed to graze on grass.
The American Heart Association recommends a variety of fish (preferably oily such as shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish) at least twice per week. They also suggest that you include oils and foods rich in alpha-linolenic acid (flaxseed, canola, and soybean oils; flaxseeds and walnuts) in your diet.
Learn more about the role that these essential fatty acids play in maintaining health and preventing disease. There's plenty of info on where they're found, what they do, what foods are the best sources, how much you should be taking, and recent research on these essential nutrients...
Omega-3 fatty acid - Wikipedia's extensive information provides daily allowances, health benefits and risks plus plenty of suggestions for finding foods to add omega 3 to your diet. Check their sections on Omega-6 fatty acid and Omega-9 fatty acid.
U of Maryland Medical Center - Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Plain facts in a reviewed article about what the essential acids are, what they do and what foods provide the recommended amounts. Extensive bibliography of research studies to back up the statements.