Many Canadians don’t realize how important omega-3 fats (especially those in fatty fish such as salmon) are for their long-term good health. And most of us aren’t eating nearly enough of them.
Our bodies don’t make omega-3s. These fats only come from the foods we eat. Two types of omega-3 fatty acids are especially important for good health: EPA and DHA. If you are healthy, 200–500 milligrams of DHA and EPA per day is recommended.
EPA and DHA can provide many health benefits, they can:
They may also:
More studies are needed to know if omega-3s have a role in rheumatoid arthritis, mental health, or other diseases.
You can find both DHA and EPA omega-3s in fish and fish oil. The best sources of EPA and DHA omega-3s are fatty fish, such as fresh and canned salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, halibut, and light tuna.
By eating at least 2 servings of fatty fish each week you will get enough DHA and EPA omega-3’s each week.
There are other ways to get omega-3s. If you don’t eat fish, you can get some EPA and DHA from eating kelp and seaweed (wakame).
Some foods are fortified with omega-3s: eggs, milk, yogurt, margarine, and juice.
You can also get some omega-3s from nuts, oils, and soy products, but these don’t lower your heart disease risk as much as fatty fish.
Some fish contains mercury and so there are recommended fish consumption limits in Alberta.
Health Canada also provides advice about Mercury in Fish so you can make informed fish choices. Use these guidelines when choosing fish. Talk with your doctor or dietitian about fish consumption if you are pregnant.
Fish Consumption Advisory in Alberta.
The best way to get omega-3 fats is from food.
If you think you aren’t getting enough EPA and DHA from fish and fortified foods, talk to your dietitian, doctor, or pharmacist before starting an omega-3 supplement.
If you have high triglycerides (a fat found in your blood), your doctor or dietitian may suggest you take more EPA and DHA.
Tips about omega-3 supplements:
If your fish oil supplements have a “fishy” aftertaste, try:
For more information about omega-3 fats: