Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Heart Health

Krewe of Cleopatra parades on Lundi Gras under the theme “Throw Me Something, Mister!”
February 12, 2024
Krewe of Christopher celebrates 70 years!
February 12, 2024
Krewe of Cleopatra parades on Lundi Gras under the theme “Throw Me Something, Mister!”
February 12, 2024
Krewe of Christopher celebrates 70 years!
February 12, 2024

By: Claire Chiasson, LDN, RDN, Thibodaux Regional Health System

What are Omega 3 fatty acids?

Omega 3 fatty acids (known as Omega 3s) are a type of polyunsaturated, heart-healthy fat that provide a host of health benefits. They are considered essential fatty acids because they are necessary for human health. However, since the body cannot make these fatty acids on its own, they must be consumed through food or supplements. There are several types of Omega 3s, but the most common include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). EPA and DHA are found mainly in fish and shellfish. ALA is derived from plant foods and plant-based oils and is a precursor to EPA and DHA. Therefore, it is advised to eat a wide variety of foods containing omega 3 fatty acids to reap all of the benefits.

Why do we need omega 3 fatty acids?

These fats are a crucial component of all cell membranes, including our eyes and brain, while also supporting major functions in our body involving the heart, lungs, immune system, and hormones. Omega 3s have also been shown to fight inflammation in the body, which is one of the underlying causes of chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and heart disease. Omega 3s can even benefit a person’s mental health, like fighting anxiety and depression!

Benefits for heart health

The strongest evidence regarding Omega 3 fatty acids and health is related to heart disease. These healthy fats reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering triglycerides and raising good cholesterol levels, and they may help to lower blood pressure. Omega 3s are also shown to fight inflammation in the body. Since heart disease involves inflammation in the arteries, these fats are sure to play a role in the keeping the body’s arteries healthy.

What foods contain omega 3 fatty acids?

ALA fatty acids are found in certain plant-based foods such as canola oil, walnuts, and flaxseeds. DHA and EPA are found mainly in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring. The American heart association recommends eating two servings per week of healthy fatty fish for heart health benefits. Try to incorporate more Omega 3 food sources into your diet by adding ground flaxseed to smoothies, or even sprinkling them on top of oatmeal, yogurt, or salad. Also consider spreading avocado on top whole-wheat toast and consuming fish twice a week. There are plenty of ways to incorporate more Omega 3 fatty acids into a heart-healthy eating plan!

To get a jumpstart on your heart healthy diet, try this delicious walnut crusted salmon recipe for a dose of Omega 3 fatty acids. Your heart and taste buds will be sure to love it!

For more information or to schedule a nutrition consultation with a registered dietitian, contact Thibodaux Regional Health System at 985-493-4765



  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-pound skinless salmon fillet
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • Chopped fresh parsley to garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  2. Combine mustard, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, rosemary, honey, and crushed red pepper in a small bowl. Combine panko, walnuts, and oil in another small bowl.
  3. Place salmon on the baking sheet. Spread mustard mixture over the fish and sprinkle with panko mixture. Lightly coat with cooking spray.
  4. Bake until fish flakes easily with a fork, about 8–12 minutes depending on thickness.

Sprinkle with parsley if desired and enjoy!

Yields: four 3 oz servings

Nutrition Facts: Calories 222, Protein 24 grams, Carbohydrates 4 grams, Fat 12 grams (saturated fat 2g) Cholesterol 62 mg, sodium 256 mg