Omega-3s: Your Questions—Answered

By Willow Jarosh, R.D., and Stephanie Clarke, R.D.

Q: What are the benefits of omega-3s and what's the best way to get them?

A: Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat, and the major benefits are that these essential fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA (discussed below), can help support cardiovascular health, healthy brain function and overall health.

While our bodies can make most types of fats, omega-3s are an exception. We have to get them from food or supplements. There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids, and ideally, you want to ingest a mix of all three: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaeonic acid (EPA) and docosahexaeonic acid (DHA).

The hardest omega-3s to get in the diet are EPA and DHA—ideally, you should get 160 mg a day. The most abundant food source of EPA and DHA is fish, especially fatty types like salmon, sardines, tuna, halibut, and herring. Another simple way to get more EPA and DHA (along with ALA) into your diet is with a variety of foods supplemented with these oils, including many Smart Balance® products such as Smart Balance® HeartRight™ milk and spreads, Smart Balance® Omega-3 buttery spreads, Smart Balance® Omega-3 Butter Blend Sticks, and many varieties of Smart Balance™ milks, which all contain EPA/DHA (32mg EPA/DHA per serving, 20% of the 160mg daily value).

The current recommendation for ALA is 1,600mg daily. You can find ALA in vegetable oils including soybean and canola, walnuts, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, and eggs from chickens that were fed omega 3-rich feed. You can also get a good amount from many Smart Balance® buttery spreads, including Smart Balance® Light Original Buttery Spread with Flax (1 tablespoon provides 320mg of ALA, or 20 percent of the 1,600mg daily value).

For more on omega-3s, click here.



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