Omega fatty acids, according to the American Heart Association, can supply you with nutrients that increase your overall level of cardiovascular functioning. These fatty acids are found in a variety of natural foods as well as commercially prepared foods.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Foods classified as cold water fish, also known as fin fish, contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, cites the USDA and American Heart Association. This class of fish include herring, lake trout, anchovies, albacore tuna, mackerel and salmon. Salmon is the preferred fish, according to the Mayo Clinic. All varieties of salmon (Pacific, Atlantic, wild, red, sockeye, chum, king and chinook) are rich in omega-3 and a variety of other needed nutrients. According to nutritiondata.com, a 3-ounce serving size of salmon contains 2,198 milligrams of the heart-healthy fatty acid. Both the canned and fresh versions of fin fish contain rich sources of omega-3, cites the USDA. If you do not like eating fish, you can take fish oil supplements to receive the health benefits.
Other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, caviar, unsaturated oils (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and sunflower seeds.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids
These fatty acids, according to the USDA, are commonly found in what the American Heart Association labels as "heart-healthy fats." Heart-healthy fats are unsaturated fats that can help lower harmful cholesterol levels. Foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids include oils made from cottonseed, soybean, canola, vegetables, safflower, peanut, grapeseed, poppy seed and olive. The Mayo Clinic recommends consuming olive oil because it is a rich source of omega-6 fatty acids. According to nutritiondata.com, 1 cup of olive oil will supply you with 21,100 milligrams of these fatty acids.
Some nuts and seeds are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, cites the USDA. Walnuts, sunflower seeds, cashews and pine nuts are in this category. According to nutritiondata.com, 1 cup of chopped English walnuts has 44,600 milligrams of omega-6 fatty acids.
Other foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids include mayonnaise, partially hydrogenated shortening, salad dressings (such as French and Thousand Island) made with heart healthy oils and margarine, cites nutritiondata.com.
Omega-7 Fatty Acids
Also known as vaccenic acid, according to the USDA, omega-7 fatty acids are naturally occurring trans fats found in milk fat. They may help in reducing total cholesterol, triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) ("bad") cholesterol levels, cites the USDA. Foods rich in omega-7 fatty acids include whole and 2 percent fat dairy products. These include cottage cheese, butter, milk, cream, yogurt, ice cream and all varieties of cheese (hard and soft versions). You will not get this fatty acid by eating nonfat dairy foods, according to the USDA.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference; Release 20, USDA; 2008
- American Heart Association: Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet