Anyone serious about sticking to a healthy diet can’t escape the growing popularity of Omega-3s found in fish oil. With endorsements from the American Heart Association to Andrew Weil to the World Health Organization, Omega-3s’ health benefits are now in the public eye. “Omega-3s/fish oil is a leading category in overall nutritional supplementation. If you survey individuals who use vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements, I would argue that fish oil and multivitamins are the most common products used,” explains Douglas MacKay, naturopathic doctor and research advisor for Nordic Naturals. “As far as the general population, people are not turned on to fish oil because they do not focus on prevention. We have a bad habit of waiting until we get sick and then we supplement.”
Nordic Naturals is a current leader on the omega front for both its Omega-3 purified fish oil and capsules, as well as its commitment to the environment. They use only wild fish and all their by-product is used for either animal or human consumption. Another brand to consider is Barlean’s. Known for its flax oil, they have now introduced a complete Omega-3 source: the ultra-purified Fresh Catch fish oil line harvested from fresh waters in all-natural orange and lemonade flavors. Their Omega Swirl pushes Omega-3s into the dessert sphere; their molecularly distilled cod liver oil has the taste and texture of a fruit smoothie. Mary Kent Hearon, nutritional health counselor and founder of Columbia, South Carolina-based Dragonfly Wellness, says that Omega-3s can enhance the body by increasing memory, aiding circulation, and regulating metabolism. Especially pertinent to the winter, MacKay says that Omega-3s can help keep dry skin and eyes moisturized while balancing the immune response.
When shopping for a fish oil, Hearon says it is essential to look for one that has been molecularly distilled—meaning there are no harmful traces of Mercury or other toxins in the product—like Nordic Naturals. When in the grocery store, looking for alternatives to straight fish oil, stock up on sardines, mackerel, anchovies, and cod liver. These cold water fish, along with almonds, avocado, and flax seeds, are rich with Omega-3s. Seeking out foods packed with Omega-3s becomes easier when leafing through a creative cookbook like Omega 3 Cuisine: Recipes for Health and Pleasure, by Alan Roettinger and Udo Erasmus. Erasmus, author of Fats that Heal Fats that Kill, has also created Udo’s Oil 369 Blend, derived from organically grown plant sources, which protects Omega-3 fats from heat, light, and oxygen. The new book features recipes integrating Udo’s Oil into healthful, easy-to-prepare dishes like potato-leek soup with rosemary, quinoa pilaf and goji-raspberry sorbet. “People really don’t understand the difference between good fats and bad fats,” Hearon explains. “Omega-3s are an essential fat, a good fat that our body needs.”