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Omega - Healthy : More ways to get this super-healthy nutrient every day

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More ways to get this super-healthy nutrient every day

Omega-3 fats are a nutrient powerhouse, shown to improve heart health and mood. Of the omega-3s, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are the most impressive. “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 S., 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. Find out how you can get more below.

Description: Omega-3 fats are a nutrient powerhouse, shown to improve heart health and mood

Omega-3 fats are a nutrient powerhouse, shown to improve heart health and mood

Can I boost my immune system with probiotics?

Here’s an instance where you can feel good about bugs in your food: probiotics the live microorganisms found in fermented foods, such as yogurt, kefir, miso, tempeh and sauerkraut may help your immunity.

In one study, participants who took a probiotic supplement (50 million cultures of Lactobacillus gasseri, Bifidobacterium longum and B. Bifidum) over two winter/ spring seasons shortened any colds they got by about two days and lessened their symptoms, compared to those who took a placebo. Additional research reviewed in Pharmacological Research found that L. Casei (often added to yogurt) boosts T-cell production, our immune system’s specific, targeted line of defense. Scientists think probiotics help your Gl tract’s natural bacteria to block pathogens from being absorbed.

Though the research is promising, we don’t fully know why certain strains work or how many we actually get in a product. (Yogurt labeled with the “Live & Active Culture” seal, however, guarantees 100 million cultures per gram about 17 billion cultures in a 6-ounce cup, at manufacturing time.) Even if a number is listed, some of the probiotics may naturally die during storage or be destroyed during digestion. We also don’t know how many probiotics are needed to be effective (some say it’s the amount in a spoonful of yogurt, others say you need a cup).

Bottom Line: Stick to probiotics from fermented foods. You’ll get a dose of healthy bacteria plus other good-for-you nutrients (think: calcium in yogurt, etc.). Supplements might help, but they may not deliver the strain or dose promised.

Description: Phytonutrients, probiotics and fermented foods

Phytonutrients, probiotics and fermented foods

Food sources

Where’s the DHA/EPA from?

Serving size

How much

Natural

Cold-water fish

Wild fish make DHA/EPA from the algae they eat.

4 oz.

2,085 mg (salmon) 1,110 mg (sardines) 305 mg (light tuna)

Seaweed (nori) & kelp (wakame, kombu or dulse)

Both are algae, which produce some DHA/EPA.

1 oz.

4-134 mg

Fortified

Eggs

Chickens turn some of the omega-3s from flaxseed in their feed into DHA/EPA.

1 large egg

30-150 mg omega- 3s (some of which is DHA/EPA)

Milk

Added fish oil (anchovy & sardine) or algal oil.

1 cup

30-50 mg

Peanut butter

Added fish oil.

2 Tbsp.

32 mg

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.

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