Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you’ve heard about the health benefits of essential fatty acids like omega-3s. Their long list of health benefits include:
- Decreased risk of heart disease and stroke
- Decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- Healthier skin and hair
- Less risk of depression and other mood disorders
- Better immunity
Essential Fatty Acid Foods
Our bodies cannot produce the essential fatty acids omega-3 (EPA and DHA) or omega-6, but they are essential to the healthy functioning of all the tissues. Therefore, we must get these critical nutrients from our diet.
Omega-6 fatty acids are easily obtained through animal foods like beef, chicken and pork. It is also plentiful in corn oils. Our western diet is over-saturated with omega-6 sources of food, which is not good for us since it promotes inflammation.
Taking fish oil supplements has been touted as a way to get those essential fatty acids like omega-3, but researchers have come to discover that the fish oil used in supplements is often too unstable to be of any real benefit to our bodies. If you have been choking those giant capsules down and suffering fish-tasting burps, stop! There is a better way.
What we need to be eating more of is omega-3 rich foods. It’s pretty well known that fish like salmon and trout have a lot of omega-3s. However, you have more choices than you may realize when it comes to getting more essential fatty acid foods in your diet.
There are three surprising seafood sources of EFAs that you should start eating.
Sablefish are also known as wild Alaskan cod or black cod. This cold-water species is generally less contaminated with mercury like king salmon and abundant in omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. In fact, Sablefish has more of the essential fatty acids than most other fish except king salmon.
Since it lives in very deep cold water, sablefish accumulate more fat which makes them easier to prepare and less likely to dry out with a little overcooking. You can bake it, sauté it or put it on the grill and it usually turns out melt in your mouth tender.
American Shad fish is hard to find if you don’t live on a coast. They can be found along the coast from Alaska to Mexico and all along the East coast.
American shad are loaded up with omega-3 laden fat, but they are also very bony. It takes some practice to prepare and eat them but it’s worth the effort. To prepare them it is easiest to poach or smoke them then flake out the meat. It makes a great addition to a salad even cold and is full-flavored enough to pair with strong garlic and chili pepper sauces.
These dull shellfish are full of healthy surprises. They contain high levels of:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamins A, E, C and B12
- Minerals zinc, iron, calcium selenium
Oysters taste the best in colder weather. They spawn May through July, which affects the taste somewhat. You can incorporate them into a variety of stews and soups and easily get more EFAs into your diet.
It’s also worth noting that oysters are considered an aphrodisiac due to their high concentration of amino acids that trigger the release of sex hormones. Choose farmed over wild and grind up the shells for your garden to help balance the pH of the soil.
Now you know about some main dish options to go along with the plant foods you have been eating that supply a lot omega-3 fatty acids. Enjoy.