Diabetes Self-Management Blog

In last week’s blog entry (“Fabulous Fish Oil Findings: Part 1”) we discussed what fish oils are as well as many of the health benefits that these essential fatty acids have to offer. By the way, two studies were published in the April issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showing that omega-3 fatty acids may help slow cognitive decline in the elderly.

One study compared people who ate fish to those who didn’t; those who did eat fish had a slower decrease in cognitive function. The other study showed that high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood were correlated with a decreased cognitive decline in the area of verbal fluency, especially among the people who had high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels. So, here’s yet another reason to fit fish into your diet.

Speaking of fish and diet, you may be wondering how much fish you should eat and which fish have the most fish oils. Or maybe you’re wondering if you can reap the benefits of omega-3s without eating fish—for example, are there plant sources of omega-3s? We’ll focus on food sources of omega-3s this week and next week we’ll take a look at supplements.

According to the American Heart Association, if you don’t have heart disease, you should aim to eat at least two fish meals per week (or about 0.5 grams of fish oils per day), along with foods rich in alpha-linolenic acid (such as flaxseed, canola oil, and walnuts). People who have heart disease should aim for one gram of fish oils (both EPA and DHA) daily. These folks can consider taking a supplement. And, for people with high triglyceride levels, between two to four grams of fish oils is recommended, under the supervision of a physician.

The fattier the fish, the more fish oil it contains. Fatty fish include salmon, herring, mackerel, lake trout, and tuna. All seafood contains some fish oil, but obviously you get the most bang for your buck from eating the fattier sources. So, for example, to get one gram of omega-3s from fish, you’d need to eat 3 ounces of salmon (wild or farmed), 4 ounces of canned albacore tuna, 7 ounces of flounder, or 15 ounces of haddock. (For a good list of the omega-3 content of fish, click here.)

If you live in areas where it’s hard to find good, fresh fish, don’t despair: Canned salmon, canned tuna, and canned sardines are good sources. Buy canned fish packed in water, not oil. If you’re worried about the sodium content, rinse the fish under running water for several minutes.

What about mercury in fish? Unfortunately, this is a concern for everyone, especially pregnant women and children. Pregnant women and children should avoid eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, but they can eat canned light tuna (up to 12 ounces per week), as well as many other fish. For more information on this topic, click here.

Generally, however, the benefits of eating fish outweigh the potential risks. And if you’re overly concerned, taking fish oil supplements is certainly an option.

What about plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids? The goal is to aim for about one gram of alpha-linolenic acid each day. Canola oil contains 1.3 grams per tablespoon, flaxseed contains 2.2 grams per tablespoon (flaxseed needs to be ground up before eating), and flaxseed oil contains 8.5 grams per tablespoon. Golden flaxseed has the same nutrition benefits as brown flaxseed, by the way; however, the taste of golden flaxseed is more appealing. Don’t forget, too, that nuts, such as walnuts and pecans, as well as tofu, soybeans, sesame seeds, and dark green vegetables (such as spinach, broccoli, kale, and seaweed) also contain omega-3s. Aim to include these foods in your eating plan as often as you can, especially if you’re a vegetarian or don’t like seafood.

Next week: Fish oil supplements!


Fabulous Fish Oil Findings: Part 1
Fabulous Fish Oil Findings: Part 2
Fabulous Fish Oil Findings: Part 3

  1. Anything wrong with taking Omega 3 via the capsules. I take 2400 mg. a day. I have seen what it can do to help cholesterol.

    Posted by Kerr Mitchell |

Post a Comment

Note: All comments are moderated and there may be a delay in the publication of your comment. Please be on-topic and appropriate. Do not disclose personal information. Be respectful of other posters. Only post information that is correct and true to your knowledge. When referencing information that is not based on personal experience, please provide links to your sources. All commenters are considered to be nonmedical professionals unless explicitly stated otherwise. Promotion of your own or someone else's business or competing site is not allowed: Sharing links to sites that are relevant to the topic at hand is permitted, but advertising is not. Once submitted, comments cannot be modified or deleted by their authors. Comments that don't follow the guidelines above may be deleted without warning. Such actions are at the sole discretion of DiabetesSelfManagement.com. Comments are moderated Monday through Friday by the editors of DiabetesSelfManagement.com. The moderators are employees of Madavor Media, LLC., and do not report any conflicts of interest. A privacy policy setting forth our policies regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of certain information relating to you and your use of this Web site can be found here. For more information, please read our Terms and Conditions.

Alternative Medicine/Complementary Therapies
Love Hormone Treats Diabetes (10/15/14)
Color Me Healthy (09/29/14)
Misinformation (01/22/14)
Acupuncture Improves Diabetic Gastroparesis (05/31/13)

Nutrition & Meal Planning
Hype or Healthy? Ezekiel Bread and Whey Protein (10/20/14)
Hype or Healthy? Chia Pudding and Bulletproof Coffee (10/14/14)
Low-Carb Diet Improves Quality of Life in Type 2 Diabetes (10/07/14)
Soup Really Is Good Food (10/06/14)

Heart Health
Self-Manage Your Blood Pressure (09/02/14)
Pistachios Offer Protection for People With Diabetes (08/29/14)
Which Butter (or Spread) Is Better? (07/28/14)
High-Salt Diet Doubles Heart Risk in Type 2 Diabetes (07/25/14)



Disclaimer of Medical Advice: You understand that the blog posts and comments to such blog posts (whether posted by us, our agents or bloggers, or by users) do not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs. The opinions and other information contained in the blog posts and comments do not reflect the opinions or positions of the Site Proprietor.

Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring — Part 3: Smart Monitoring

10 Keys to Long-Term Weight Loss

Take Your Best Shot: Stay Up to Date on Vaccines

Complete table of contents
Subscription questions