Fortified foods are all the rage. Here, some expert advice on which to take to the checkout—and which to leave on the shelf.
Foods with Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There are three main types of this polyunsaturated fat-EPA, DHA, and ALA. The first two are found naturally in fish and fish oils. Soybeans, canola oil, walnuts, and flaxseed contain ALA.
What they do: Powerful weapons against heart disease, omega-3 fatty acids help lower blood pressure, control the inflammation inside artery walls that can lead to clogging, and regulate heartbeat. In addition, they're important for brain function, helping to prevent depression.
Should you bite? Most women's diets pack plenty of ALA but just 60 to 175 milligrams of DHA and EPA daily--not nearly enough. Fatty fish is the best way to bump up your intake because it's the most concentrated source of omega-3s in addition to being low in calories, high in protein, and rich in the minerals zinc and selenium. But if you don't eat fish, fortified products are a good substitute. You can also take advantage of these fortified products if you're pregnant or breast-feeding, especially if morning sickness makes fish less appealing than usual. Boosting your intake of EPA and DHA might help prevent pregnancy complications like preterm labor and high blood pressure. Omega-3s may also up the IQ of babies who get it from breast milk.
What to buy: Look for products with added DHA and EPA that you can substitute for other healthy foods in your diet. Eggland's Best omega-3 eggs (52 mg of DHA and EPA combined per egg), Horizon Organic Reduced Fat Milk Plus DHA (32 mg per cup), Breyers Smart yogurt (32 mg DHA per 6-ounce carton), and Omega Farms Monterey Jack Cheese (75 mg of DHA and EPA combined per ounce) all fit the bill. If you see a product boasting several hundred milligrams of omega- 3s, check the label carefully. It's probably made with flax or another source of ALA, and your body won't be able to use more than 1 percent of the omega- 3s from it.