You may have heard that omega-3 fatty acids, as found in fish oil or nuts, are good for your heart, helping to reduce triglycerides and keep arteries clear. All true!
But fit folks need to know about their other benefits, like boosting your performance, speeding your recovery, and more. Here’s how omega-3s work, and how to get them.
Essential Fatty Acids
In addition to your heart, your body requires fatty acids for healthy functioning of your brain, skin, eyes and more. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid—we need it, and yet our bodies can’t make it, so we must ingest it. Supplements like fish oil or flaxseed oil capsules are one way. Eating foods with naturally-occurring omega-3 is another.
Recommended daily intake of omega-3 is 500 mg per day, which is equal to about 2 fatty fish meals per week. However, our ability to use omega-3 fatty acids is diminished by too much of another essential fatty acid, omega-6, most commonly in vegetable oils like corn oil and safflower oil.
It’s a little trickier to find omega-3s in sufficient quantities in foods, but there are a few easy-to-find ingredients that will do the trick.
- Flaxseeds (grind them for better absorption)—about 1/8 cup per week
- Walnuts—about a 1/3 of a cup per week
- Salmon, Tuna, Halibut, Sardines—about 2 servings of fatty fish per week
There are plenty of good reasons that you should make sure you’re getting at least the recommended amount of omega-3s:
- Support your strength training. Omega-3s increase protein syntheses—that means the protein you eat can better become the protein in your muscles. Research has shown they also may increase the muscle-building response to insulin and amino acids released during exercise.
- Support your exercise recovery. The process of building muscle includes breaking it down a bit, with the microscopic tears that heal to be bigger, stronger fibers. Omega-3s help that healing process along with strong anti-inflammatory properties.
- Feel better, faster, with fewer injuries. The same anti-inflammatory properties that support exercise recovery help fight against delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)/ Omega-3s also can reduce workout injuries by minimizing muscle degradation, boosting blood flow to the muscles, and even encouraging better range of motion in the joints.
Double down on your omega-3 intake with this yummy salmon dish topped with walnuts!
Honey Nut Crusted Salmon
- 3 – 4 wild caught salmon filets
- ¼ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
- ¼ cup walnuts, rough ground or finely chopped
- 1 T. Dijon mustard
- 1T honey
- ½ tsp. thyme
- ½ tsp. parsley
- Place the salmon on an oiled baking sheet, skin side down while you preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place all other ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times to grind and mix, or finely chop walnuts and mix with other ingredients in a small bowl.
- Use the walnut mixture to crust the flesh side of the filet.
- Bake 10 – 15 minutes until fish is done to your liking.