Omega-3 Fatty Acid Benefits

Mediterranean style food

Mediterranean style food| OksanaKiian/Getty Images

If you’ve been researching ways to eat a healthy diet, you’ve likely heard about Omega-3 fatty acids. Health experts say they are essential, but what are they and how do they contribute to a healthy lifestyle? The Cheat Sheet spoke with Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietitian, nutrition expert and adviser for the Lose It! app to learn more.

One thing we learned is that Omega 3s are essential because they help our bodies to function properly. These “good fats” help fight disease and illness. Says Kirkpatrick, “You need Omega-3’s in order for your body to function properly, like improving brain and memory function and decreasing the risk of heart disease.”

So exactly how much Omega 3 should you be getting? According to Kirkpatrick, it’s best to have three servings of Omega-3 rich foods each week. She says apps like Lose It! give premium users access to a macronutrients log so they can keep track of the amount of nutrients they’re getting from their diet.

Here’s more of our conversation with Registered Dietician Kristin Kirkpatrick.

The Cheat Sheet: What are some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids?

Kristin Kirkpatrick: The best sources are fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, and tuna, fish oil, and krill oil. Stick with only wild sources if you can. Plant-based options include hemp seeds and hemp seed oil, flaxseeds, chia, and walnuts or walnut oil.

CS: What are some long-term effects of an omega-3 deficiency?

KK: Low levels of omega-3 have been associated with depression and, according to some studies, compromised brain health.

CS: Is it possible to get too much omega 3? What are the side effects?

KK: Getting too much omega-3 (like from high-dose supplements or excessive fish consumption) can cause blood thinning and interact with blood-thinning medications. It may also cause unpleasant side effects like bloating or fishy breath. The main point is to consult a doctor or registered dietician before springing for a supplement you plan to take daily. More isn’t always necessarily better. It’s about consistent weekly intake and maintaining a balance with other healthy nutrients.

CS: What are some easy ways to sneak Omega 3s into your diet?

KK: You can add fish and walnuts to salads, but that’s not exactly sneaky! Try cooking with walnut oil or blending flaxseed oil, chia seeds, or hemp oil into smoothies or oatmeal.

CS: Do you have any favorite recipes you’d like to share?

KK: Walnut butter balls

Ingredients: Blueberries, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed, and Greek yogurt

Directions: Mix walnut butter with dried blueberries and a pinch of honey. Form into balls and store in freezer.

CS: Tell our readers more about the Lose It! app and how it works.

KK: I’m a proud advisor for food-tracking app, Lose It!, and know first-hand that it helps people get a better sense of the protein, fat, fiber, and carbs in foods when they track meals in the app. It lets you plan ahead and check the content of what you’re eating every day. There is even a barcode scanner that makes logging foods that much easier. Results come from starting good habits, and tracking your food is an essential first step.

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