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There has been a lot of talk recently about the benefits of eating a diet rich in Omega-3's. But what does it really mean? Here are a few pieces of information to help sum it all up:
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that are necessary for proper brain growth and development. They are found in fatty fish, oils, nuts, and eggs.
The three major types of omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
ALA comes only from plant sources such as walnuts, flaxseed, canola oil, soy, and wheat germ. Because the body can't manufacture ALA, it is considered an essential fatty acid.
Once eaten, the body converts ALA to EPA and DHA, the two types of omega-3 that are more readily used by the body. However, research suggests that this conversion is limited.
Both EPA and DHA play important roles in functioning of cell membranes, as well as your immune and neurological systems, and are linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
EPA and DHA are only found naturally in fish and fish oil supplements. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel have the highest levels of omega-3. The Food and Drug Administration allows fortification of foods with omega-3 as well. Eggs are the most familiar fortified food in the U.S., but more fortified foods may be coming such as pasta, peanut butter, and cereal.
For a delicious way to incorporate more omega-3 into your day, simply add a salad topped with a hardboiled Omega-3 fortified egg, enjoy a meal that includes fatty fish, or try a small handful of walnuts as a snack.