As we continually strive to live more healthfully, many of us are looking for new ways to fill our plates (and our bellies) with better food choices. And while we’re all for upping our daily number of fruits and veggies, it’s also important to have an accurate understanding of the other critical nutrients our bodies need—and how to get them.
For decades, the word “fat” equaled “bad,” and as a result, companies started putting out low-fat versions of products that were actually just full of artificial sweeteners and harmful preservatives. Thankfully, we’ve gotten wiser over the past few years, with a deeper understanding of just how valuable certain fats are, specifically omega-3s.
If some of this is new to you, here are a few “fat facts” to get you up to speed:
- Our bodies make the majority of the fats we need all on their own. But a select few, called essential fats, can only be made when eating certain foods.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are the most critical of these essential fats gained from food sources.
- The benefits of omega-3s include:
- Better heart health
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved memory
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Healthier skin, nails, and hair
Plus when we fuel our bodies with essential nutrients, we are less likely to crave unhealthy additives, so omega-3s can also prevent weight gain.
Now that you know why you need essential fats, we’re going to guide you through how to incorporate omega-3-rich foods into your daily diet. And the best part? Omega-3s are a perfect nutrient for any time of day, at any meal. So whether you’re grabbing breakfast on the-go, lunch before a meeting, or dinner at home with the family, here are some of our favorite omega-3 foods for morning, noon, and night.
Start Your Day with…
Eggs, any way you like ’em! Eggs are a great source of omega-3s, and you don’t need to have time to whip up a frittata every morning. You can grab a hard-boiled egg for the road and still get your early-bird dose of healthy fats!
Whole milk yogurt (or whole coconut milk yogurt, if you avoid lactose) with berries or cereal. Just watch the sugar of whatever you add to this whole version of milk or yogurt.
Flaxseed oatmeal—baked, microwaved, or stovetop! Oatmeal is one of the heartiest, most nutritious ways to fuel your body for the day. And by adding omega-3-rich ground flaxseeds to each serving, you’re elevating your breakfast even more.
Fuel Your Day with…
Avocado—on your sandwich, wrap, or salad. We’ll never tire of avocado toast, but the healthy fats of avocado can also be used as a spread on a hearty sandwich or wrap, or as a healthy-fat addition to salad.
Walnuts tossed on a salad or as a crunchy addition to a mid-day snack. Treat yourself to a little mezze plate of satisfying omega-3s and be sure to include a handful of walnuts. Did you know walnuts are the nut that’s highest in omega-3s, while most other nuts are higher in omega-6s*?
End Your Day with…
Salmon or any other fatty fish. You’ve probably read about the health benefits of salmon, but some people just don’t like a very “fishy” fish. And the good news is you can also get essential fats with other seafood, like trout, mackerel, and herring, even oysters.
Olive oil—yes, we said it! Oil gets a bad rap. And sometimes it’s true that oily equals unhealthy. But extra virgin olive oil is a staple in the Mediterranean diet, and it is the leader in food sources with omega-3s. Don’t be afraid to make a delicious dressing with a serving of extra virgin olive oil. Your body will thank you.
Of course, lots of veggies also pack the power of healthy fats. For breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you can always get an extra dose of omega-3s by adding leafy greens.
*Bonus: What’s The Deal with Omega-6s?
Omega-6s are also an important fat for our bodies to thrive, but they’re not nearly as critical (or as healthy) as omega-3s. Too many omega-6s can actually cause inflammation and increase risk for heart disease. Foods that are high in omega-6, like soybeans and vegetable oils, should be consumed with moderation.