How to Boost Your Prenatal Health with Omega-3s
Pregnant women who consume foods with omega-3 fatty acids and wheat germ are not only helping themselves stay healthy, they’re also helping their unborn babies. According to a 2004 study published in the journal Child Development, mothers who consumed docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, may have helped their babies’ attention spans and brain development. Wheat germ, an excellent source of folic acid, also helps prevent neural tube defects in unborn babies and can be easily combined with omega-3 food sources to create tasty dishes that will help both moms and their babies.
How do you get omega-3s into your diet?
There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids in food. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is found in walnuts, flax seeds, hemp foods, chia seeds and vegetable oils such as canola, soybean, flax and walnut oil. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are found naturally in fish and other seafood and are recommended for pregnant women. The best source of EPA and DHA is fatty fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, sablefish and trout. EPA has been touted for its anti-inflammatory, heart and immune system benefits, while DHA supports the brain, eyes and central nervous system. Since our bodies don’t make omega-3 fatty acids, we must get them from food.
The Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend pregnant women consume up to 12 ounces (two average meals) a week of fish and shellfish that are low in mercury. This includes shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, sardines, pollock, catfish, trout, herring, sole, flounder, anchovy, arctic char, hake, mullet, smelt, Atlantic mackerel and lake white fish. Delicious recipes that combine omega-3s and wheat germ to boost your pregnancy health include Salmon with Lemon, Dill and Wheat Germ Sauce, Black Rice with Shrimp, Mango and Wheat Germ and Tuna, Spinach, White Bean and Wheat Germ Wrap.
Not a seafood lover?
If you don’t like seafood, supplements and fortified foods offer another way to get your omega-3s. Make sure to check with your healthcare professional before you start taking any supplement. Fortified foods such as yogurt, milk and eggs sometimes contain omega-3 fatty acids, but before you buy them, make sure they contain more potent DHA or EPA and not only ALA.
How do you get omega-3s into your prenatal diet?