There’s a super-important nutrient that, chances are, you’re not getting enough of: omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a
nutrient powerhouse, shown to improve heart health and mood. There are two kinds of omega-3s, in particular, that are
important for overall health: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). “They are longer than other
omega-3s (like alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA), so they make your cell membranes more fluid, which helps brain, eye and nerve
cells function better,” says Kantha Shelke, Ph.D., a spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists. Yet most Americans
only get 100 mg a day of DHA/EPA, far short of the recommended 250 mg.
All sorts of foods have been boasting omega-3s lately, from orange juice to bread. Amy Paturel, M.S., M.P.H., reported for
EatingWell magazine on how to get more of these healthy fats in your diet. She found there are three main ways you
can get DHA/EPA in your diet: by eating foods with naturally occurring DHA/EPA, by eating foods fortified with DHA/EPA or by
taking a supplement. Here’s how much you get from various food sources:
• Wild cold-water fish make DHA/EPA from the algae they eat. Per 4-oz.serving you get 2,085 mg
from salmon, 1,110 mg from sardines and 305 mg from light tuna.
• Seaweed (nori)and kelp (wakame, kombu or dulse) are both
algae, which produce some DHA/EPA. In a 1-oz. serving, you get 4-134 mg.
• Eggs: Chickens turn some of the omega-3s from flaxseed in their feed into DHA/EPA. 1 large
egg can contain 30 to150 mg omega-3s (some of which is DHA/EPA).
• Milk: Some brands of milk add fish oil or algal oil to give a DHA/EPA boost (don’t worry,
you can’t taste it!). 1 cup of fortified milk delivers 30 to 50 mg of DHA/EPA.
• Peanut butter: Like milk, some brands are adding fish oil. A 2-tablespoon serving provides
32 mg DHA/EPA.
Bottom line: Cold-water fish is the best source. “Nature packages nutrients like DHA/EPA with
other substances like fat that facilitate absorption and effectiveness,” says Shelke. Fortified foods or a supplement can
help up your intake.