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The ABCs of Omega-3s

  • Marty Baldwin

    Eat Two Servings of Fish Each Week

    Experts at the American Heart Association recommend eating fish twice per week. Each serving should be 3.5 ounces cooked, or about 3/4 cup flaked (as in tuna.) Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna contain the highest amounts of omega-3s. Now, if you're reading this and thinking, No way does my family eat fish twice a week, you're not alone—most people fall short. Just jump in and start somewhere. For an easy, tasty lunch, make a tuna or salmon salad (see our recipe, below). Aim to have fish for dinner once per week (see more recipes below). If you are concerned about mercury, follow the FDA and EPA guidelines that suggest women of childbearing age and children may eat up to 12 ounces a week of light tuna and "lower in mercury" seafood (like Pacific flounder, sole, or scallops), or 6 ounces of albacore tuna.

    Get the Salmon Salad recipe

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    Know the Difference Between Omega-3s

    There are three main dietary omega-3 fatty acids, and they aren't all created equal. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), occurs in plant foods like soybeans, canola oil, and pumpkin seeds. The second and third types, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), found mostly in seafood, are most closely associated with boosting heart health. Since your body has to first convert ALA into EPA and DHA for it to be effective, and only a small amount actually gets converted, it's important to get the bulk of your omega-3s from fish sources.

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    Not a Fish Eater?

    If you don't love fish, add daily servings of foods like ground flaxseeds, walnuts, and leafy greens into your diet. At your next physical, talk to your doctor about taking a fish oil supplement.

    Originally published in the April 1, 2011, issue of Family Circle magazine.

    All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.


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