You’ve probably heard of healthy omega-3 fats before, but it’s also important to know there are different types. When we eat omega 3 from plants such as chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts, we eat omega-3 in the form of ALA. While this is still a healthy fat, researchers aren’t quite sure if we can convert ALA into the more useful forms of omega-3. Those are called EPA and DHA.
EPA is better known for its role supporting our immune systems and heart health, while DHA is important for brain development and brain function. Studies have shown adequate amounts to help reduce muscle soreness, improve muscle function and help the body better adapt to exercise. There’s even some evidence that it can help those with exercise-induced asthma. A study involving elite swimmers also showed a positive connection between omega-3 EPA and DHA intake and immune function.)
While DHA is added to some dairy products and eggs can be fortified with omega-3, it’s easy to boost EPA and DHA with regular intake of fatty fish – and you don’t have to look further than a can of salmon or tuna. Just be mindful of limiting mercury. While salmon is a low-mercury fish, you’ll want to choose skipjack (chunk light) over albacore or yellowfin (often labeled as “white”).
BBQ tuna quesadillas:
- Mix a 4.5 ounce can tuna with 3-4 Tbsp of barbecue sauce.
- Heat oil over a skillet before placing a whole grain tortilla on top and filling it with ¼ cup of cheese and the tuna mixture.
- Cook for 2 minutes before flipping and cooking an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Serve with guacamole and sliced peppers.
- Mix two 6-ounce cans of salmon (drained) with 2 beaten eggs, ¼ C plain unsweetened yogurt (dairy free varieties work as well) and 1 Tbsp of mustard.
- Next, incorporate ½ C breadcrumbs and roughly 1 Tbsp of your favorite seasonings (such as an Italian blend, Mexican blend, or just garlic powder, paprika, and pepper).
- Heat 1-2 tbsp olive or avocado oil on a skillet before scooping ⅓ C sized patties and flattening. Cooking for 4 minutes on each side and repeat until the entire mixture is used.
- Serve on wheat slider rolls with your favorite raw vegetable or with baked sweet potato fries and roasted broccoli.
Tuna Sandwich Sushi
- Mix a 4.5 ounce can tuna with ¼ C of hummus and 1 tbsp olive oil.
- Cut the crust off a large slice of whole grain bread before flattening the bread with a rolling pin.
- Spoon an even layer of the tuna mixture on the bread, before rolling it up like sushi and cutting into even pieces. Repeat with more bread until you’ve used all of the tuna.
- Serve with sliced carrot chips or baby carrots.
Kelly Jones MS, RS, CSSD is a sports dietitian as well as a former USA and Division I swimmer. She works with swimmers and athletes of all ages, and is regularly featured as an expert in outlets such as Runner’s World, Well and Good, and The Washington Post. She’d love to hear questions and suggestions for future topics from swimmers, coaches and parents at Kelly.JonesRD@gmail.com.