Here’s how to get your fix of good-for-your-heart EPA and DHA at upcoming Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah meals—and beyond (ahem, leftovers)!
Thanks to the folks at the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED) for sponsoring this blog post. All opinions, as always, are my own.
This is my favorite time of year, when the air turns crisp and the holidays are around the corner. While Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday, I really love any excuse to get friends and family together for a meal.
It seems that a lot of us (me included!) give ample attention to creating lower-calorie versions of holiday favorites. But what about adding nutrients to the table?
Two of my favorite nutrients to focus on are EPA and DHA, omega-3 fatty acids that are super important for your health. (Want a primer on these? Check out my overview in my “Top Vegetarian Sources of Omega-3s” post.)
EPA and DHA have many health benefits, but I’m going to focus on one in particular: heart health. A recent study in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that higher EPA and DHA levels are connected with lower risk of heart disease. That’s a huge deal and shows the importance of getting a consistent intake of these nutrients. Both EPA and DHA play an active role in heart health.
When it comes to how much EPA and DHA you need for heart health, this varies. To help lower risk of coronary heart disease in healthy adults, 500 milligrams (mg) has been found to be beneficial. For prevention of coronary heart disease, though, you may want to consider a little more: 1,000 mg daily. And a higher amount, upward of 1,000 mg daily, is connected with helping to lower blood pressure and benefitting triglyceride levels.
You can get EPA and DHA from food sources, as well as supplements. I’ll go over some main sources now, plus some recipes to inspire your holiday table. These ideas are great for leftovers, too!
Fish such as salmon, arctic char, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies offer EPA and DHA—and a good amount, too. Aim for at least two 3.5-ounce servings of cooked fatty fish each week. If you’re looking for a higher omega-3 intake for heart health benefits, you may want to increase that weekly amount and consider a supplement, as well. Give these mouth-watering recipes a try:
· Tangy Tuna Salad from Jennifer Hunt at Jennifer Hunt Nutrition
· Corny Salmon Cakes from Liz Weiss at Liz’s Healthy Table
· Spicy Southwest Sardine Bites from Lauren Harris-Pincus at Nutrition Starring YOU
· Maple Arctic Char with Braised Cabbage & Apples from Abbey Sharp at Abbey’s Kitchen
· Black Sesame Encrusted Salmon from Tracee Yablon Brenner at Triad to Wellness
· Garlic Dill Baked Salmon with Lemon Herb Butter from Kelli Shallal at Hungry Hobby
· NYC Smoked Salmon “Everything Bagel” Penne Pasta from Abbie Gelman at Culinary Nutrition Cuisine
Some foods are fortified with omega-3s. Often, however, the amount found in the final product is on the lower side—which is why you shouldn’t rely on such foods to deliver all your omega-3 needs. These foods can, however, be fantastic inclusions in your diet to help you add a little more EPA and DHA to your day.
One food to consider: Certain eggs that offer EPA and DHA, thanks to special diets the chickens are fed. Sub in an omega-3-containing egg such as Eggland’s Best into an egg-containing recipe you love. These appetizer, side dish, and dessert ideas are all delicious:
· Roasted Garlic & Tomato Mini Crustless Quiche from Jenna Braddock at Make Healthy Easy
· Cheesy Deviled Eggs with a Cheese Crisp from Julie Harrington at RDelicious Kitchen
· Healthier Eggplant Parmesan from Jennifer Bowers at Dr. Jenn Bowers Nutrition
· Wild Blueberry Mini Cakes with Vanilla Icing from my own kitchen
· Orange Cranberry Tart from Judy Barbe at Live Best
· Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread from Stacey Mattinson at Stacey Mattinson Nutrition
On its own, olive oil is one of the top heart-healthy fats. And some oils—such as Carlson Olive Your Heart—offer EPA and DHA. This extra-virgin olive oil is blended with fish oil and provides an impressive 1,480 mg EPA and DHA per Tablespoon. You shouldn’t cook with it, though, so try it in a salad dressing or to drizzle on hummus.
Only a small amount of omega-3-containing olive oils can be use in cooking, and they typically offer fewer omega-3s for that reason. You can substitute an omega-3-containing olive oil into any of these recipes:
· Basic Vinaigrette with 3 Variations from Dixya Bhattari at Food, Pleasure & Health
· Kale Italia Salad from Jenna Braddock at Make Healthy Easy
· Broccoli Slaw Salad from my own kitchen
What are your thoughts on this topic? How do you get your fill of omega-3s? What are your tips for staying heart healthy, especially during the holidays?