When it comes to your health, taking care of your heart is extremely important. Most of us know that the most common ways to care for your heart are to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise, and see your doctor regularly for checkups.
Along with all of those options, another way to care for your heart is to ensure you are getting enough healthy fats. While some of us may hear the word fat and assume it can’t be good, healthy fats are actually beneficial, especially for your heart.Omega-3 fatty acids can benefit your cardiovascular health, and the following is everything you need to know to ensure you’re on the right track to keep your heart healthy.
What are Omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fats that are essential nutrients. The human body cannot make these fatty acids on its own, which means that individuals need to receive Omega-3 from food or from supplements in order to receive the known health benefits.
There are two types of Omega-3: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docasahexaenoic acid (DHA) as well as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA tends to come from vegetable oils and nuts while DHA and EPA are found in fatty fish. If you consume ALA, your body will typically convert it to EPA and DHA.
What are the benefits of Omega-3?
Doctors have been recommending Omega-3 fats to patients for a long time due to their many benefits. These fatty acids are considered unsaturated fats, which are good for you because they can reduce inflammation throughout the body. This is extremely important for your heart, as inflammation can lead to serious cardiovascular issues and disease. Omega-3 can also lower your blood pressure, decrease triglycerides, decrease risk of heart failure, decrease risk of stroke, and even reduce blood clotting.
Studies have also found health benefits that aren’t associated with cardiovascular health, such as curbing rheumatoid arthritis, helping with depression, reducing asthma, helping with ADHD, and even protecting against dementia.
Where do I find Omega-3?
The best source of Omega-3 is fish. Salmon, sardines, tuna, and herring are the best options because they contain the most fatty acids. Many doctors have recommended that in order to get the right amount of Omega-3,you should eat fish at least twice a week. Try to consume about 3.5 ounces each time, which is equivalent to the size of a deck of cards. Other food options you can eat include flaxseed, canola oil, soybeans, and walnuts. It’s important to note that some fish contain high levels of mercury, so you want to try and choose options that are high in fatty acids but low in mercury. Other food options, such as walnuts, are higher in calories too, so be sure to consider this when creating your diet.
Can I take supplements?
If you don’t like fish, you can also purchase supplements at your local health food store or pharmacy. However, studies have shown that supplements don’t work as well as receiving the fatty acids directly from the fish. To be safe, it’s a good idea to first talk with your doctor before taking a supplement. Depending on your health or if you currently suffer from cardiovascular issues, your doctor may suggest that you take more or less than the recommended amount. Plus, Omega-3 supplements do come with side effects, so this is something your doctor may want to discuss with you before starting.
What if I’m a vegan/vegetarian?
If you’re a vegan/vegetarian and you don’t eat fish, you should try to make sure you’re getting Omega-3 from the other sources of food, including walnuts and oils. You should also make it a point to talk with your healthcare provider or a dietitian to discuss adding supplements to your diet. This will ensure that you are getting the right amount of fat in your diet in the healthiest of ways.
So no matter if you’re trying to get the right amount of nutrients in your diet, or if you’re looking for an easy way to improve your cardiovascular health and reap some additional benefits, adding Omega-3 to your diet is a great idea.