Imagine if you could take a pill that prevented you from ever feeling fat, dumb or depressed. Oh, and imagine that same pill happened to protect against heart disease, arthritis and osteoporosis, too. Not too shabby, right?
Well, said pill does exist, in a way: all these benefits and more have been traced to omega-3 fatty acids, a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory found primarily in...you already know this...fish. Salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, herring, blah blah blah. And eating lots of fish, or taking fish oil pills, is fine if that’s your thing. As long as mercury, pesticides, estrogenic chemicals, environmental chaos, and other weird science spillovers are also your thing. From farmed salmon to tainted tilapia, more and more of our seafood is looking suspect, not just from a save-our-oceans perspective, but from a save-ourselves perspective as well. In fact, many of the chemicals found in seafood are increasingly being linked to weight gain and other issues.
Yet we need omega-3s; and because our bodies don’t make them, we have to get them from our diet. By dampening inflammation, omega-3s play a key role in reducing belly fat storage, all while keeping us full and satisfied. So what if you’re a fish-hater--or just paranoid about pesticides? Luckily, there are other ways to get your 1.1 grams of daily omega-3s recommended by the National Institutes of Health (men should get 1.6 grams daily). Here are some easy ways to hit your number fast. And while you’re at it, check out these 9 Ways to Lose Belly Fat When You’re Crazy Busy.
Omega-3 Superfood #8: Grass-fed Meat
1 6-ounce steak has 0.16 grams of omega-3s
Because they wander around in fields eating things like flax and purslane (about which you’ll read, below), grass-fed cows yield meat that contains about 4 times more omega-3s than grain-fed animals.
Omega-3 Superfood #7: Mustard Seeds
1 tbsp has 0.2 grams of ALA
While the fluorescent yellow stuff you use on hot dogs isn’t going to do you any favors, these little seeds are the real thing, and loaded with omega-3s. Use whole-seed mustard when you can, or use the seeds themselves in your cooking: You can sprinkle them into stir-fry, or toast them lightly and add them to pork dishes, yogurt curry dishes, and even salads. Mustard seeds are one of the 6 Best Spices for Weight Loss.
Omega-3 Superfood #6: Purslane
½ cup has 0.3 g ALA
What the hell is purslane? While not a common food in most of the U.S., this sour, slightly salty green is often used in Greek and Turkish cooking. You can find it at farmers’ markets in spring and summer, but the most likely place you’ll encounter it is growing in the cracks of your driveway. A weed to most, it was a regular part of Gandhi’s diet, and a mere half cup has more than 1,000 IUs of vitamin A. This might be the cheapest stealth health food in the world!
Omega-3 Superfood #5: Omega-3 Eggs
One Organic Valley Omega-3 Egg has 0.3 g ALA
Eggs turn up on many of our “best lists” because they are chock full of protein, vitamins, antioxidants, and a fat-fighting nutrient called choline. Omega-3 enriched eggs are laid by hens that are fed flaxseeds, chia seeds, and fish oil, thereby automatically improving your cluck!
Omega-3 Superfood #4: Navy Beans
1 cup has 1.19 grams of ALA
Not only are beans a great source of belly-fat-fighting fiber, a single cup gives you an entire day’s worth of omega-3s. Navy beans are packed with satiating protein, and brimming with vitamins and minerals. Studies show that navy beans in particular can help battle diabetes and obesity by helping your fight back against 5 Weird Things That Are Killing Your Healthy Gut Bugs.
Omega-3 Superfood #3: Walnuts
1 ounce (about 1/4 cup) has 2.5 grams of ALA
Walnuts pack the most omega-3 punch of any nut or seed, and they’re also high in disease-fighting antioxidants. This combination, according to a recent study, is highly protective against heart disease. Walnuts help reduce blood pressure and decrease inflammation in the blood vessels during times of stress.
Omega-3 Superfood #2: Chia seeds
1 tbsp has 2.5 grams of ALA
Yes, those same chia seeds of Chia Pet fame. These nutty-tasting seeds can be added to salads, smoothies, stir fry and more to give your meals an omega-3 boost, and just a tiny shake each morning on your cereal ensures you’re hitting your daily quota. That’s why chia fits in among our 8 Best Fats for Weight Loss.
Omega-3 Superfood #1: Flaxseed Oil
1 tbsp has 7.3 grams of ALA
While whole flaxseeds are high in ALA, their hard exteriors often resist digestion, meaning you don’t necessarily get the nutritional bang for your buck. Go for the ground version (also known as flax meal), which has about 2.3 grams of ALA per tbsp, or get nearly a week’s worth of the good stuff by drizzling a little of the oil onto your salad. Studies have found flax to be helpful for cardiovascular disease symptoms like hypertension, according to a recent study in the journal Hypertension.
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