The Real Deal with Omega 3s

June 1, 2013 Sarah Lawson, RD

It’s that season again! The time when Seattleites will shell out upwards of $30-40 per pound of the magnificent creature we know as the Copper River salmon. What’s so amazing about this humble little fish that keeps us coming back for more?


Omega-3 fatty acids, to be precise. Copper River salmon is prized for its high body fat content, which is used to fuel their 300 mile trek to their spawning destinations. Omega-3 fatty acids not only provide delicious, rich flavor but are also essential for human health. These include EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are found almost exclusively in fish. EPA and DHA are labeled “essential” as the human body cannot manufacture them itself therefore they must be derived from our diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for vital functions of the human body to promote a longer and healthier life.

EPA fatty acids provide great heart health benefits:

  • Stabilizes abnormal heart rhythms to regular rates
  • Decreases occurrence of sudden cardiac death and first heart attacks and strokes
  • Reduces risk of a second heart attack
  • Can lower blood pressure
  • Increases HDL “good” cholesterol levels and decreased triglycerides
  • Can alleviate and break down harmful plaque buildup (atherosclerosis) in blood arteries and vessels to prevent blood clots

DHA fatty acids may contribute to our brain health:

  • Can decrease development of degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia
  • Improves moods and lessens the chance of depression, postpartum depression, mental disorders, bipolar disorder, and aggressive behavior

Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammation properties that can provide better control of immune responses to alleviate conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, and asthma.

While the Copper River variety of salmon is certainly high in the Omega-3s, there are other fish sources that too provide healthy doses of the essential fatty acids. Rainbow trout, albacore tuna, black cod (sablefish), sardines, herring, and mackerel also contain EPA and DHA. The American Heart Association recommends consuming a 3.5oz serving at least twice a week for health benefits. (You can find more about copper river salmon here.)

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