Food 1-1Published 6:56am Thursday, May 9, 2013
It’s been recommended to me that my son get more Omega-3 fats in his diet. Besides just giving him fish oil supplements, what are some good sources of Omega 3, and is there anything I should be aware of when seeking out these sources?
Dear Going-for-the-Gold Gretchen,
Omega-3 fatty acids (or fats) have gotten a lot of attention in the past decade, as they are a very valuable type of fat for our bodies. There are several different kinds of omega-3s, but there are 3 abbreviations that are most commonly referenced in literature and on supplement labels: EPA, DHA, and ALA. EPA and DHA are regarded as having more established health benefits than ALA. However, our bodies convert a portion of ALA into EPA and DHA, which makes consuming ALA still very valuable.
Since fish and fish oil supplements have the EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, they are recommended as a first line of defense to patients who may benefit from them. Fish with the highest amounts of EPA and DHA are salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, anchovies, and albacore tuna. Note that fish oil supplements may cause a fishy taste or fish burps. If you do not consume fish or fish oil supplements, DHA is also able to be obtained by taking microalgae supplements. The best sources of ALA come from the oils of certain plants: flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, soybeans (edamame), and canola oil. Some dark green vegetables are also decent sources of ALA: broccoli, kale, spinach, and Brussels sprouts.
The Dietary Reference Intake for omega-3s for both children and adults is 0.6 – 1.2 grams/day. Omega-3s continues to be a hot topic in the world of nutrition, so stay tuned!
My husband and I are hoping to lose weight–what’s the best way for us to do that and still eat together as a family with our children? We are looking to move towards more clean eating habits as well.
Dear Judicious Jessica,
You’re absolutely on the right track if you want to make these changes, but not have to make something separate for your children. It’s so important to role model healthy food choices for your children, even if they protest at first.
To lose weight, you essentially need to find places to subtract calories from your daily intake. Ideally, weight loss should be fairly slow, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see drastic changes.
Here are several ideas to get you started. One way is to plate foods in the kitchen with appropriate portion sizes, rather than have the serving dishes on the table where you’re tempted to refill your plate once (or several times.) This also makes the kids’ plates served fairly, encouraging them to take a “courtesy bite” of new foods or non-favorites. Cutting out unnecessary carbohydrates (dinner roll or bread, potatoes, crackers) at meals also trims calories. Simplifying beverage choices to milk or water eliminates hundreds of calories for some people who typically consume juice, soda, or other sugary drinks. Eating foods that are high in fiber helps to fill you up sooner and increases digestion time (making you feel fuller longer). Foods highest in fiber include whole grain products (brown rice, whole wheat pasta and breads, oatmeal, etc.) and raw crunchy or cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, carrots, celery, peppers, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts).
Eating ‘clean’ fits right into these guidelines since this eating method avoids processed and refined foods, while focusing on whole foods. Whole foods include unprocessed fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy products, unsalted nuts and seeds, and grass-fed or free-range meats. At the same time, you are avoiding processed foods (any food with a label) and refined grains/sugar. Another important tip is to combine eating protein along with carbohydrates in order to squelch hunger pangs and avoid being tempted to snack on convenience items. Not only does eating clean make sense, it tastes great, and your body thanks you for taking good care of it.
By Katrina Mouser