Omega-3 fats are found in a variety of foods from fish to pumpkin seeds and spinach. These fatty acids are essential to our bodies if we want to stay as healthy as possible, and can lower your risk of heart disease, benefitting both healthy people, and those at risk of, or have cardiovascular disease. They also play a part in maintaining our brain function; control blood sugar levels, and provide essential vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin D & Vitamin B12.
While Omega-3 fats are found in plant based sources, oily fish is thought to be the best way to get our Omega-3 from, as oily fish contains Omega-3 in a ‘ready-made’ form that is more easily absorbed by the human body. The official recommendation from the UK Department of Health is that we eat at least 2 servings of fish, that are rich in Omega-3 fats, a week to get the optimum nutrition for our bodies.
One of the most popular fish, Salmon contains 2.3g of Omega-3 per 100g, and is an easy way for us to get the recommended amount, as it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Wild caught salmon has been found to have higher levels of Omega-3 than farmed salmon, making it a better choice, however this can be a more expensive option and is not often readily available.
Sardines are one of the most sustainable fish in the ocean, and the least contaminated from toxins, making them an alternative option to mercury-laden fish. They contain 2.2g of Omega-3 per 100g, and if the sardines have been tinned, they often have a higher quantity of Omegas-3, due to the oil the fish has been brined in.
Pilchards are a cheaper alternative, if you are trying to budget but still want good quality fish, as they contain 2.2g of Omega-3 per 100g. Sardines and Pilchards are essentially the same fish, though Pilchards are larger, so carry the same benefits. Many versions of these fish are found tinned in a tomato sauce, which carries an added benefit of adding lycopene to our diets, which is proven to be a cancer protection ingredient.
Mackerel is another great source of Omega-3, with 2g for every 100g, but you do need to be careful where your fish is sourced from, as it may contain elevated mercury levels.
Herring contains 2g of Omega-3 per 100g and is a popular option in many Northern European countries, though not as popular in the UK. The lack of appetite for the Herring means that this fish is widely available and more affordable.
While mercury is a common concern for those who eat fish, mixing up the type of fish you eat and adding plant based sources of Omegas -3 to your diet, will allow you to continue enjoying your twice-weekly recommended allowance.