One of the advantages of preparing your own meals is your ability to control exactly what you’re eating. At a restaurant, I have no idea how much salt, butter, and sugar the cook is adding. At home, I can dictate the levels of each ingredient to my liking. I don’t have to guess whether a meal is wheat or gluten free, how much added sugar there is, or what kinds of fats are in my dinner. I know, because I’m the one in control.
This is pretty cool when it comes to avoiding unhealthy ingredients. It’s even cooler when it comes to adding healthy ones. Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of powerful molecules that are used by your body to fight off aging, cancer, and heart disease.
While some of my friends have turned to fish oil pills in order to introduce these substances into their bodies, I much prefer cooking delicious, healthy meals with large doses of omega-3. It’s tastier, more fun, and it’s proven to be more effective.
Here are some of my favorite ways to add Omega-3 to my dishes.
Fish Oil Comes From Fish
While you can consume fish oil on its own, it’s naturally found in fish. This means that salmon, tuna, or other fishy dishes you prepare are naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Halibut, trout, sardines, herring, and even oysters have plenty of omega-3 in each serving.
Fresh Is Best
You always want to cook with fresh ingredients, but when it comes to omega-3 acids, you want to pay special attention to keeping things fresh. Omega-3 acids decompose quite quickly in fish. This means things like canned tuna or salmon will have far less omega-3 per serving than fresh versions of the same fish.
Cooking Breaks Things Down
There’s a bit of contention about exactly what kinds of cooking break down omega-3 fatty acids the most, but the jist is that the longer you cook your fish, the less omega-3 acids it will have. Personally,
I like my fish best grilled or seared.
Both of these cooking methods are perfect for preserving omega-3s: you cook the fish for a short time at a high temperature. Frying and broiling work fine, too. If you have to steam or bake your fish, however, expect to get slightly less omega-3 in each bite.
Omega-3 acids aren’t exclusive to fish. While you won’t get the same concentrated dose, you’ll find some in eggs, yogurt, soy, milk, and margarine.
They’re also in some fresh vegetables, like kale, spinach, and broccoli, nuts and most grains (even non-whole-grain flour is a noticeable source of omega-3s), and even some vegetable oils. Since omega-3 compounds are damaged by cooking, you’ll get the most from raw or close-to-raw preparations of these foods.
Planning A Complete Meal
Given how prevalent omega-3 fats are in tasty foods, it’s not too difficult to plan a day’s worth of meals that are absolutely loaded with the stuff.
You could eat eggs and a toasted bagel with lox and cream cheese for breakfast, a spinach salad with linseed oil dressing, almonds, and feta for lunch (with a side of pita and tzatziki), and have seared ahi served on rice for dinner with a broccoli and plenty of edamame to munch on.
You’d get an absolutely incredible dose of omega-3 without having to resort to a fish oil supplement.
It’s Still A Good Idea To Supplement
Cooking with omega-3 rich foods is tasty and fun. It can be a bit of a hassle, however, and there’s no reason to NOT take a fish oil pill or two every once in a while. If you’re worried about your dietary intake of omega-3, having a supply of supplements on hand won’t hurt.
On days you can prepare a high quality, fresh meal that’s loaded in omega-3s, you can always skip the pill!
The Best Way To Add Omega-3 To Your Body
Fish oil is famous for its high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to reduce heart disease, aging, and even ward off cancer. While taking a fish oil pill is an easy and convenient source of omega-3 fatty acids, it’s not the only way.
Fish oil occurs naturally in fresh fish, and the other omega-3 acid is found in fresh leafy greens, nuts, and many dairy products. By planning recipes with these ingredients, you can improve your dietary intake of omega-3 compounds and keep yourself healthy for a long time.