Know Your Omegas for Heart Health

SYoung Health Guide
  • I still recall it as a little boy, my mother insisting that I eat my fish because it was good for my brain. I used to huff and puff about it and complain that it tasted like sawdust (not sure why I did that, maybe I was just being a contrarian), but I am glad that my mother was smart enough to feed me a healthy Mediterranean diet so many years ago. I actually consider myself one of the lucky ones because of it....and I figured out that I really loved fish!


    Fish is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (as opposed to things like crackers, cookies, and corn-fed beef which are all rich in Omega-3's evil cousin - Omega-6 fatty acids) a key ingredient in not just helping keep your arteries healthy and as a HDL booster, but also in combating a slew of other diseases and illnesses, such as cancer, depression, and rheumatoid arthritis. While Omega-3s can also be found in plants and nuts, the long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are much more potent. Plus, fish is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals, but low in saturated fats - good news for those of us fighting high cholesterol.

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    Studies upon studies have proven the benefits of Omega-3s, and due to its powerful effect to reduce the inflammatory process that leads to many chronic conditions the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the American Heart Association, and the American Dietetic Association recommend eating two 8-ounce servings of fish each week.


    However, over the past few years there has been some push back from consumers when it comes to eating fish due to the reality that mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are common toxins in seafood. Although banned, some of these substances can remain present in the air and water for years and do negatively affect certain types of seafood. The safe bet is to only eat in moderation fish that are high on the food chain such as shark, king mackerel, and swordfish. But there is plenty of delicious fish that contains only minimal amounts of mercury (well within the safe to eat zone), such as salmon, trout, pollock, catfish and one that a good friend of mine mentioned as being one of the most unappreciated fish in the world - sardines.  The great thing about sardines is that they are a very sustainable fish that is high in Omega-3s. Sardines are the perfect fish for those who want a healthy diet and sustainable ocean life.


    Check out the Diet and Exercise as well as the Food and Nutrition sections of the Web site to find great healthy recipes to help you eat right and live a healthy lifestyle.

Published On: September 13, 2010