Q:  Is all the hype about Omega-3’s just another food fad?

A:  It’s the real deal!

Great question. We have been through many food fads over the years, so it’s understandable to think Omega-3’s are just another fad to add to the list of many.   I have good news though, unlike other food fads, Omega-3 fatty acids are true to what the health claims state.

Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential fatty acid: Essential because the human body does not make it, but it’s required for good health. For the proper amount of Omega-3’s, we must get what we need via our diet. Unfortunately, the typical American diet includes relatively few foods that are rich in Omega-3’s.

Omega-3 fatty acids have a number of health benefits. One of the most beneficial characteristics of Omega-3’s is that it curbs inflammation. While inflammation is a normal part of the body’s immune response, research indicates that it also underlies a host of serious illnesses, including cardiovascular diseases, cancers and autoimmune diseases.

The three major fatty-acids found in Omega-3’s are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Most Omega-3 benefits have been found in EPA and DHA. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, cod, and tuna are the richest sources of DHA and EPA. If you’re not a fish lover, not to worry, some plant based foods are high in ALA. Once consumed, ALA can be converted to DHA and EPA, so eating a variety of Omega-3 rich plant foods can be just as beneficial.

The following list contains alternative sources of Omega-3 fatty acids; some may even surprise you.

Flax seeds, Chia seeds, flax oil, walnuts, walnut oil, pumpkin seeds, soybean oil, edamame, wild rice, grass fed beef, winter squash (pumpkin, butternut, acorn, and spaghetti) beans (black and kidney) and canola oil.

While there isn’t a clear established recommended intake for Omega 3’s, most health organizations suggest getting around 500 mg of DHA and EPA every day to avoid deficiency. Some physicians prescribe a therapeutic dose of 1-4 grams per day depending on diagnosis.