Dietary Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Classified as an essential substance, omega-3 fatty acids are not manufactured in the body, but must be obtained in the diet or in the form of supplements. Omega-3 performs vital functions in the body. It is a basic component of healthy cell membranes and insufficient amounts can lead to many problems including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and premature aging. Thus, there are many benefits of including omega-3 fatty acids in the diet.
The most popular sources of omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, English walnuts, and flax seeds. Some spices high in omega-3 include cloves, oregano, and mustard seeds. Many ocean going fish are rich in omega-3, including cod and halibut. Other seafood also contains the substance, including shrimp and scallops. Vegetables, soybeans (and tofu), Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, and cabbage are all sources of omega-3.
Cooking with Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Exposing oils to the air, heat, or light for extended periods can turn them rancid. What this means is that the omega-3 breaks down and can itself form free radicals. Frying these oils on high heat can actually turn them from a beneficial food to a harmful one. Yes, you can still pan fry a fish, or steam vegetables, but pouring on oil as dressing should be done after the cooking is complete.
Despite the many sources of omega-3 fatty acids, most people obtain insufficient amounts of omega-3 in the diet. Because of this, many people turn to omega-3 supplements.
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