What do spinach, kiwi, walnuts, red lentils and chia seeds have in common? They are all foods that contain omega-3s. Of course I didn’t include flax or salmon because those are the most widely known and then we wouldn’t have had the fun of a mental challenge!
Omega-3 fatty acids come in three different forms, including ALA, DHA, and EPA. You’ve certainly heard plenty about their health benefits, and hopefully have incorporated them into your diet. Omega-3s help battle high cholesterol, arthritis, asthma, ADHD, Alzheimer’s and even depression. One of the best reasons to consume omega-3s is to fight belly fat in five distinct ways: reduce inflammation, control hunger, improve fat metabolism, regulate blood sugar and ramp up your fitness levels.
As you know, I am not a big proponent of using supplements as replacements for nutrition. I believe a majority of the vitamins and minerals we consume should and do come from our food. Not only is it cheaper, it’s more delicious, too.
The foods I listed above are just a few of those which contain omega-3s. Have you ever heard of purslane? You may have seen it growing in the cracks of your driveway and considered it a weed. It’s a sour, slightly salty crunchy green which is actually quite a staple in Greek and Turkish cooking. It contains 300 mg of omega-3s per one-half cup and more than 1,000 IUs of vitamin A. Purslane is a stealth health food!
Grass-fed beef is another high source of omega-3s. That’s because those cows graze on flax and purslane, which can be up to 160 mg per 6-ounce steak. You can find all cuts of this healthy meat from local Long Meadow Ranch at the farmers markets.
Omega-3 eggs are now available, also due to what the chickens eat: a diet fortified with flax, chia and/or fish oil. Eggs are also full of protein, vitamins, antioxidants and a fat-fighting nutrient called choline, which you learned about in my last article on April 25.
Red lentils are an inexpensive dietary plus, touted by weight-loss experts for their ability to boost metabolism and regulate appetite. They create a feeling of satiety from their slow-digesting fiber, which helps control over-consumption. They contain 480 mg of omega-3s per cup. And navy beans, another inexpensive form of protein, offer up to a full day’s worth of omega-3s in just one cup. That contains 1,190 mg of ALA which helps battle diabetes and obesity.
Now for the big guns: flax seed oil has a whopping 7,300mg of omega-3s in just one tablespoon. I like to drizzle it on my salads or add it to my smoothie. Flax seed in whole form is beneficial, too but it does need to be ground for it to be assimilated in your body. Otherwise, it really just passes through. Get a cheap spice grinder and fill a jar for the week. That way you’ll always have it ready to go…on veggies, pasta dishes, salads, etc.
Chia seeds are shelf stable and don’t need to be ground. They contain 2,500 mg per tablespoon and are a tasteless addition to any meal, including dessert (remember the chia pudding recipe?)
My favorite food, which contains high levels of omega- 3s is salmon. Wild, of course, and available now at the farmers’ market. And don’t overlook canned salmon, too. Super tasty and affordable when in a pinch.
Ginger Miso Salmon
This is my favorite salmon recipe bar none. An added bonus is the miso which is a great probiotic.
1/4 cup white miso
1/4 cup mirin (or white wine with a teaspoon of honey)
2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
3 Tbsp. organic soy sauce (non-GMO)
2 Tbsp. minced green onions
1 1/2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
4 wild salmon fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each
Salt and freshly ground pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together the first 7 ingredients until smooth. In a small baking dish, cover the salmon fillets with the marinade and turn a few times to coat. Cover and marinate for 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
Remove the fillets from the marinade and season with salt and pepper. Preheat a grill (or broiler). If using a grill, grill the salmon skin-side down until the skin is golden and crisp, about 3-4 minutes, then turn over and grill an additional 3-4 minutes. If using a broiler, broil skin-side down without flipping, until the salmon is cooked through and well-caramelized on the top, 4-5 minutes. Serve with rice.