Mar 31, 2022 10:00 AM

Author: University of Utah Health Communications


Infographic shows how to incorporate omega-3s in your diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids can keep your body running like a fine-tuned machine. But your body cannot make these essential nutrients on its own—you must get them from food.

Why Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids So Important?

The omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for the development of the membranes that surround each cell in your body. These fatty acids contribute to heart health, reduce blood pressure, and lower inflammation. Research also shows that they may reduce the risk of dementia, arthritis, and diabetes.  

It’s No Fish Tale!

You really should heed the USDA recommendation to eat fish or other seafood at least twice a week. Seafood, especially cold-water fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies, and mackerel, are full of omega-3 fatty acids. Cod, halibut, trout, shrimp, scallops, and oysters are also good sources of omega-3s.

Plant-powered Omega-3s

Prefer a plant-based diet or don’t like fish? Include these excellent sources of omega-3s in your diet:

  • Canola oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Chia, hemp, or flax seeds
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Walnuts
  • Kidney beans
  • Edamame

Pregnant or Nursing Women Have Special Omega-3 Needs

Pregnant women especially need to up their intake of omega-3 fatty acids. The nutrients are crucial to the developing brain and eyes and may help prevent perinatal depression. Infants need large amounts as well for continued brain development, motor skill development, and a healthy immune system. Many baby formulas are fortified with DHA, the omega-3 most important for babies. Pregnant or nursing women may want to be mindful of mercury levels in seafood, however. Please talk to your OB-GYN about your individual need for a supplement while pregnant or breastfeeding.

wellness diet and nutrition omega 3 fatty acids plant based diet pregnancy breastfeeding

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