Are you getting the omega-3 fats you need?

LOS ANGELES "[There is] strong evidence that it reduces things like depression, memory loss, possibly dementia and /*Alzheimer's disease*/," said dietitian /*Elizabeth Somer*/.

Somer is talking about some of the beneficial effects in certain types of /*omega-3 fats*/. However, not all omega-3 fats are the same.

"If you really want the one-two punch, and get the whole ball of wax when it comes to health benefits, you've got to go for the omega-3s, either /*EPA*/ or /*DHA*/," said Somer. "Even then, the DHA is the most important."

/*Evelyn Tribole*/, author of /*The Ultimate Omega-3 Diet*/, says there are three types helpful for your heart. But the omega-3s from flax known as /*ALA*/ don't convert well in our bodies.

"So just less than 1 percent of ALA will get made into those important omega-3s in your body," said Tribole. "It's like relying on pennies for your budget rather than dollar bills -- huge difference."

While it may seem like alphabet soup, it's important to remember that DHA and EPA are the most effective types of these fats. The challenge is that many foods containing omega-3s come from flax, which is usually found in cereals, bread and more. However, those foods are often a poor source of the fats.

"You really have to be sort of a sleuth when you go to the grocery store. Just because it says omega-3 on the label, doesn't mean you're getting the most powerful of the omega-3," said Somer.

For example, one brand of eggs may have omega-3 fatty acids derived from chicken feed with flax. However, another brand that has DHA derived from chicken field with algae is a better source. While finding the right source may be confusing, if you see flax or flaxseed listed as an ingredient, you're probably not getting the best omega-3 benefit.

Americans average about 85 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids daily. Experts suggest we get up to 3,000 milligrams of DHA and EPA omega-3s combined.

That suggestion can be met easily by having a couple 4 oz. servings of salmon each week. But if you're looking for omega-3 fats in your enriched foods, you have to check the labels. For instance, 1 cup of milk will get you 32 milligrams of omega-3 fats, while an egg will give you 75 milligrams.

The bottom line on these foods is you've got to eat quite a few of them and eat them quite often.


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