A healthy, balanced diet includes lean proteins like fish, which boast Omega-3 fatty acids to help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Research shows that including at least two servings of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids each week is essential to good heart health. It may help decrease your risk of irregular heartbeats, lower triglycerides levels, slow the build-up of atherosclerotic plaque and lower your blood pressure.
What is omega-3?
Omega-3 is a type of fatty acid that your body needs, but does not produce; you get it from your diet. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) twice a week (two servings) to get these important fatty acids. Fish can be a healthy alternative to red meat or poultry. Fish with higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids include albacore tuna, white canned tuna, herring, lake trout, mackerel, salmon, sardines and certain shellfish.
There are different types of omega-3 fatty acids. EPA and DHA are two important kinds that are primarily found in fish. There are also plant-sources of omega-3 fatty found in algae and seaweed.
In addition to reducing your risk of heart disease, omega-3 fatty acids help with cognitive function (brain development and memory) and normal growth and development. If you don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids, you may experience poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, blood circulation problems, fatigue, mood swings and depression.
It’s recommended that pregnant women and children consume two servings of fish per week, but to be cautious of mercury contamination and avoid the types of fish with the highest risk (shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish). For middle-aged men and women, fish that are high in omega-3 have many benefits that generally outweigh potential harm. Eating a wide variety of fish can help reduce the risk of adverse effects.
Although AHA recommends that you receive omega-3 primarily from your diet, some doctors recommend taking a supplement as a therapy to help lower high triglyceride levels if you have coronary artery disease. Talk with your doctor before taking any kind of dietary supplement.
Make a healthy meal with fish
Fish and shellfish are very flavorful when prepared with the right healthy ingredients. It’s easy to create a bold, healthy meal without using oils, salty seasonings or frying. Grill or bake the fish and enhance the flavor with fresh herbs, spices and lemon or lime juice.
For more information on the benefits of omega-3 acids and for easy fish recipes, visit heart.org.