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Food & Health News

5 New Sources of Omega-3s

It’s summertime and the living is easy, as is our access to fresh seafood. But sometimes, you just want to let the fish swim in the sea, or you’re so busy having fun, you forget your fish oil supplements. Here are some new ways to take in your all-important heart- and brain-strengthening omega 3s.

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1. Insect oil

Jiminy Cricket! A recent Dutch study has found that oil made from insects may provide humans with the omega-3 fatty acids we need for healthy hearts and brains. As researcher Daylan Tzompa-Sosa points out in a report, crickets, cockroaches, grasshoppers and other insects are being used for their protein, but then their oils are discarded. When she studied the leftovers, Tzompa-Sosa found a surprise. “The oil appeared to contain a lot of fatty acids,” she said in a press release. While insect oil has yet to hit the market, keep your eyes – and nostrils – open. “All the oils smell differently,” said Tzompa-Sosa, “some nicer than others.”

2. Hempseed

Hemp may have a hippie reputation, but as researchers point out in a 2010 Nutrition & Metabolism study, hemp is more likely to improve our hearts instead of going to our heads. “The psychotropic properties wrongly attributed to hemp would complicate any conclusions obtained through its study,” they write about the emerging evidence on hemp that supersedes previous mysteries surrounding the plant. “Hempseed no longer contains psychotropic action and instead may provide significant [cardiovascular] health benefits.” Hempseed, researchers add in the report, has an “excellent” omega-3 fatty acid content. “Supplementing the diet with tablespoons of hemp oil in addition to hemp capsules as well as ingesting foods that contain these omega-3 fatty acids,” they write, may be the optimal way to get enough.

See also 8 Superfoods for a Fall Refresh. 

3. Spinach and Purslane

Popeye would be so proud of this perennially strong leafy green, which packs a double punch. Spinach contains 1.7 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per gram – more than mustard greens, red leaf lettuce and buttercrunch lettuce, according to a Biological Research study. It also has 5 grams of protein per cooked cup, making it a smart lunchtime, or anytime, choice. Feeling adventurous? For even more omega-3 fatty acids, try purslane, which has a whopping 8.5 milligrams per gram (but only 2 grams of protein per cooked cup). 

Find spinach recipes here. 

4. Nut Butters

Just gazing at the selection of nut butters on the store shelves these days can drive you nutty with indecision. But if you’re looking for omega-3, almond butter is the one to toss into your cart, thanks to its naturally high levels of the fatty acid. For even more, try a product such as Once Again Omega-3 Natural Almond Butter Smooth, which has added flaxseed oil for 260 milligrams of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of plant-based omega-3 fatty acid that’s similar to the kind in fish oil. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, try making your own almond butter (with a twist!) using our Ginger Almond Nut Butter with Flax Oil recipe.

5. Grass-fed beef

You are what you eat, so when cows chew on grass, they absorb more omega-3 fatty acids, just like when humans gobble up spinach. According to a study review conducted by The Union of Concerned Scientists, steak from grass-fed cattle tends to have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than meat from corn-fed cows. The Union also recommends that “beef and dairy producers interested in optimizing levels of omega-3 fatty acids and CLA [conjugated linoleic acid] should strive for pasture-based feeding regimens that maximize the number of days their cows spend on grass.” So when in doubt, choose the animal that’s been out and about – not the one stuck in a feedlot with a diet of corn.

Top Tip: Drink More Water

Drinking more of it may be the best way to improve your eating patterns, say researchers from the University of Illinois in a new study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. They found that sugar, sodium, fat, cholesterol and calories all dropped among people who upped the amount of water they drank by as little as 1%. Sugar intake plummeted by as much as 18 grams, while participants slashed as many as 205 calories just by taking a few more sips of plain water throughout the day. That makes choosing a beverage to go along with these new omega-3 picks as easy as, well, shooting fish in a barrel.

See also Reconsider Tap Water: The Healthiest Water Options.