Omega-3s: The Anti-Inflammatory Nutrient You Should Eat More Of

Kim Lenga

Inflammation is a built-in defense mechanism in the body. For instance, the process helps heal a cut — that's why you see some redness, swelling, and sometimes even heal around a cut. That's the kind of inflammation that's good, healthy and typical.

There's another kind — called chronic inflammation — that's not healthy, and over time can harm your overall health and put you at a higher risk of developing chronic conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, autoimmune illnesses and even Alzheimer's.

What you eat has the potential to make a difference. In fact, there's one particular nutrient that dietitians and anti-inflammatory experts consistently recommend as important and highly helpful.

Omega-3s are the good-for-you fats found in oily, cold-water fish, some shellfish and some seeds, nuts and their oils. They pull double-duty in that they play a role in creating anti-inflammatory compounds and also help discourage the production of inflammatory markers.

How to get More Omega-3s:

  1. Seafood:  Fatty fish like salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, herring and sardines are high in the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.  So are shellfish like oysters and mussels.
  2. Plants:  The type of omega-3 that comes from plant sources, like walnuts, chia and hemp seeds, is a wonderful thing to add to your diet, and these foods also contain other healthy nutrients, like fiber.
  3. Supplements:  If you don't eat seafood, look for a supplement that delivers between 1,000 and 4,000 milligrams of omega-3s.

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