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Omega-3 basics for athletes

The benefits of omega 3s for athletesYou’ve probably heard by now Omega-3s are important for living a healthy life. But what exactly are these fatty acids, what do they do, and do you need to eat fish to get your fill?

What are Omega-3s?
Simply put, Omega-3 fatty acid is an unsaturated fatty acid occurring chiefly in fish oils. They have shown to have positive impacts on health with regard to cancer, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, mental health, aging, and even fetal development. For athletes, the help is all about muscle recovery – Omega-3s can help with muscle loss and soreness. They can even lower triglycerides and raise good HDL cholesterol levels.

Why do I need them in my diet?
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to human health, and they control anything from “blood clotting to building cell membranes in the brain.” They’ve also shown to help prevent heart disease, stroke, cancer, and even autoimmune diseases. Athletes, in particular, see some major rewards since Omega-3s may alleviate – and possibly prevent – joint pain. Unfortunately, the human body cannot manufacture Omega-3s from within, which is why we need to add them to our diets to see all these benefits.

Where can I find them?
Many foods are rich in this fatty acid, and consuming Omega-3s through food is the preferred way to get them in each day. If you eat fish, you’re in luck. If not, though, don’t fret – there are plenty of plant-based options from which to choose. And supplements can be a nice go-to when all else fails (just make sure to consult a doctor first). The current recommendation for intake is around 500mg per day.

These are some of the foods containing the most Omega-3s as reported by Self Nutrition Data. Stats are per 200 calorie serving for comparison.

  • Flaxseed Oil – 12059mg
  • Fish Oil (Salmon) – 7828mg
  • Chia Seeds – 7164mg
  • Walnuts – 2776mg
  • Canned Capers – 1600mg
  • Fried Tofu – 994mg
  • Black Tea – 600mg

Here are some recipes rich in Omega-3s:

Written by Ashley Marcin