How many omega-3s does your dinner have?

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As I approach my third trimester, I’m becoming a bit of an omega-3 fiend. The unsaturated fatty acids have not only been tied to lower heart disease risk in adults, but they have also been shown to boost fetal brain development, especially when consumed in the final few months of pregnancy. Given that I’m not much of a cold water fish fan—the thought of chewing a mouthful of sardines makes me want to gag—I’ve been looking into how else to get them, and what I’ve uncovered has surprised me.

I had always assumed that fish were the best way to go. Don’t get me wrong, they do contain a lot: cooked fresh salmon and canned sardines provide 1.7 and 1.8 grams of omega-3s per four ounce serving, respectively. But as it turns out, some seeds and nuts and their oils pack even more of an omega punch. One ounce of walnuts, for instance, contains 2.6 grams of omega 3s—ounce for ounce, six times more than fresh salmon—and an ounce of flaxseeds provides 1.8 grams. Their oils are fabulous too: a tablespoon of walnut oil contains 1.4 grams, and flaxseed oil has a whopping 6.9 grams (you’d have to eat nearly a whole pound of canned sardines to get that—eww!). Don’t be fooled thinking that olive oil is better, either. It contains just 0.1 grams per tablespoon.

For a breakdown of some common foods and their omega 3 contents, check out this site maintained by Tufts University.

Citations:

PSOTA, T., GEBAUER, S., & KRISETHERTON, P. (2006). Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Cardiovascular Risk The American Journal of Cardiology, 98 (4), 3-18 DOI: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2005.12.022

JACOBSON, J., JACOBSON, S., MUCKLE, G., KAPLANESTRIN, M., AYOTTE, P., & DEWAILLY, E. (2008). Beneficial Effects of a Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid on Infant Development: Evidence from the Inuit of Arctic Quebec The Journal of Pediatrics, 152 (3), 356-3640 DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2007.07.008

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