September is Healthy Aging Month, so there's no better time to embrace nutrients (hello, EPA and DHA omega-3s!) that will help you age gracefully. Help your subjective age—the age that you feel, not that you are—get lower with just a few simple nutritious tweaks to your week. Then enjoy these 30 nutritious and heart-healthy omega-3 recipes!
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.
Want to feel like you’re 25 even if you’re 50? These days, it’s possible. Yes, subjective age is really a thing! And part of feeling younger is keeping your health in as tip-top shape as possible.
In honor of Healthy Aging Month, let’s chat a little about how the omega-3s EPA and DHA can help boost your heart, brain, and eye health. Now, that’s a triple threat!
Besides adipose tissue, the brain is the fattiest organ in the body. And 50 percent of the brain’s building block is fat. That’s why it’s essential to keep the brain fueled with EPA and DHA throughout every stage of the life cycle, from infancy to older age.
Here’s some awesome news: Getting your daily fill of EPA and DHA could help improve memory as you get older. This was evident in a review study in PLOS One, showing that daily intake of DHA and EPA helped improve memory function in older adults who complained of mild memory issues!
How to fight inflammation with food? To get the amount of omega-3s needed to help boost brain health—and overall health—aim for at least two 3.5-ounce servings of cooked fatty fish weekly. Or you can opt for a daily supplement that provides at least 250 milligrams (mg) of EPA and DHA. Just make sure to read the supplements facts label to determine this amount. Unfortunately, front-of-package numbers can be misleading.
Keeping my ticker in top shape is super important to me, especially because heart disease runs in my family. The good news is that EPA and DHA can help heart health. In fact, one study in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings revealed that higher EPA and DHA levels are linked with lower risk of heart disease.
If you’re looking to use omega-3s to help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, you’ll want to look at an amount of 1,000 mg daily. As well, a larger intake—more than 1,000 mg daily—has been found to help lower blood pressure and benefit triglyceride levels. Wondering about plant sterols and stanols, and if cholesterol-lowering spreads really work?
Your body’s largest concentration of DHA is in the eyes. That’s why DHA intake during pregnancy and while breastfeeding helps vision develop normally in infants! Getting omega-3s throughout your entire lifespan will help your vision stay healthy. For instance, DHA helps the cells of the eye that control your ability to see in different lighting conditions. How cool is that? Aim for 250 to 500 mg of EPA and DHA daily to maintain healthy vision.
And if you’re wondering about how I get my fill of omega-3s as a vegetarian, take a look at my “Top Vegetarian Sources of Omega-3s” post—and get my recs on which vegetarian omega-3 supplements to buy. Omega-3s are very important for a healthy plant-based pregnancy!
By the way, vegetarians, it’s important to note the difference between EPA, DHA, and ALA omega-3s. So here’s a super quick primer. ALAs are short-chain omega-3s found in certain plant foods like flaxseeds. It’s important to get your fill of ALA, but only a small amount of ALA converts to EPA and DHA. That’s why it’s so important to take in enough of these long-chain omega-3s, which are found in fatty fish and certain algae—as well as a handful of fortified foods.
Now, get started with increasing your daily dose of EPA and DHA. Here are common food sources of omega-3s, plus delicious recipe inspiration from my registered dietitian pals!
You’ll find EPA and DHA in fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, cod, sardines, and anchovies. Want to eat more fish? Here's why eating seafood is beneficial for your health, plus tasty recipes to add to your rotation:
· Pistachio Crusted Salmon with Citrus Gremolata from Emily Cooper, RD, owner of Sinful Nutrition
· Tuna Pesto Pasta Salad from Christy Wilson, RD, owner of Christy Wilson Nutrition
· Lemon Dill Salmon Burgers with Yogurt Dill Sauce from Kara Hochreiter, RD, healthy recipe blogger at Byte Sized Nutrition
· Mediterranean Cod with Rotini from Karman Meyer, RD, nutrition blogger at The Nutrition Adventure
· Taco Tuna Quinoa Sliders from Kelli Shallal, RD, nutrition blogger at Hungry Hobby
· Tuna Stuffed Avocadoes from Lindsey Pine, RD, nutrition blogger at Tasty Balance
· Salmon Potato Cakes from Diane Norwood, RD, owner of The Wandering RD
· Baked Pesto Salmon from Lara Clevenger, RD, a nutrition blogger at Lara Clevenger Nutrition
You’ll find that some oils contain EPA and DHA. One such product is Carlson Olive Your Heart, an extra-virgin olive oil blended with fish oil. You get a high amount of omega-3s from this oil! However, don’t cook with it—instead use it as a finishing oil or in a salad dressing. Try the oil in these recipes.
· Roasted Garlic Dipping Oil from Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, dietitian at It’s a Veg World After All
· Grape Vinaigrette Salad Dressing from my own kitchen
· Mediterranean Quinoa Chickpea Salad from Shahzadi Devje, RD, CDE, owner of Desilicious RD
· Okra, Chickpea, and Tomato Rice Bowl from my own kitchen
Curious about the best vegetarian sources of omega-3s? As a vegetarian, I rely on supplements to get my fill of omega-3s. But fortified foods, such as eggs, can add bonus amounts of EPA and DHA to your diet. Look out for specific eggs (such as Eggland’s Best), which note on the label that they contain omega-3s. Use those eggs in these recipes:
· Mexican-Inspired Shakshuka from Kelly Jones, MS, RD, nutrition blogger at Eat Real Live Well
· Mandarin Orange French Toast from my own kitchen
· Herb and Cheese Baked Muffins from Megan Casper, RD, nutrition blogger at Nourished Bite
· 5-Ingredient Cheeseburger Frittata from Chrissy Carroll, RD, recipe blogger at Snacking in Sneakers
· Eggs Benedict with Lighter Hollandaise Sauce from Toby Amidor, RD, owner of Toby Amidor Nutrition
· Avocado Deviled Eggs with Smoked Paprika from my own kitchen
· Dipsy Eggs with Sweet Potato Soldiers from Maria Westberg Adams, RD, owner of Halsa Nutrition
Some milk, such as Horizon’s Reduced-Fat Milk with DHA Omega-3, is fortified with small amounts of EPA and DHA. You can use this milk to add additional omega-3s to your day. Get started with these recipes!
· Wild Blueberry Lavender Smoothie from my own kitchen
· Scrambled Egg Tacos with Cilantro Lime Pumpkin Seed Drizzle from Liz Weiss, RD, nutrition blogger at Liz’s Healthy Table
· Pumpkin Apple Overnight Oats from Jenna Braddock, RDN, owner of Make Healthy Easy
· Mini Quiches from Colene Stoernell, RD, owner of CS Nutrition
· Pomegranate Pistachio Chia Breakfast Pudding from my own kitchen
Certain jarred tomato sauces, like the sauces from Omega Foods, are fortified with fish oil for extra omega-3s. Sub in the sauce in these recipes:
· Veggie Pasta Bake from Sarah Schlichter, RD, owner of Bucket List Tummy
· Protein Punch Marinara Spaghetti Squash from my own kitchen
· Lightened-Up Easy Chicken Parmesan from Melanie Flinn, RD, owner of Nutritious Eats
· Walnut Mushroom Lasagna Rolls from Judy Barbe, RD, owner of LiveBest
· Vegetarian No-Noodle Zucchini Lasagna from Katie Sullivan Morford, RD, nutrition blogger at Mom’s Kitchen Handbook
· Vegan Lasagna with Tofu Ricotta from Chelsey Amer, RD, owner of C Nutritionally