Folic acid and omega-3 fatty acids are nutrients necessary for the proper functioning of your body as well as for the attainment of optimum health. Both of them can be obtained from so many food sources. However, a trip to the supermarket will also introduce you to food products that are fortified with these nutrients. Placing some of these items in your shopping cart helps ensure that you are getting your daily recommended needs of folic acid and omega-3 fatty acids.
Before discussing some of the foods that are naturally rich in these nutrients as well as those that are fortified with them, let us take a quick look at the various health roles that folic acid and omega-3 fatty acids play. Knowing what they are will let you see why it’s important for you to obtain adequate amounts of them.
Roles of Folic Acid
Folic acid is actually a member of the B-group of vitamins. Low intake of this nutrient can lead to its deficiency which causes a variety of health problems. The following are the most important roles played by folic acid:
- It is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system because it promotes the production of neurotransmitters — chemicals that permit nerve cells to communicate with one another.
- Folic acid promotes a healthier cardiovascular system by helping to lower high blood pressure and prevent the formation of blood clots. It is also important for the production of red blood cells which transport oxygen molecules.
- The nutrient helps prevent neural tube defects in a fetus growing inside the womb. Neural tube defects involve the abnormal development of the nervous system of a fetus.
- Experts say that folic acid may also help prevent cancer as well as mental health problems like depression.
Roles of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, just like what the name says, are actually healthy fats. They can be easily bought in the form of supplements these days, but you may obtain them from various food sources. These are the roles of omega-3 fatty acids:
- Omega-3 fatty acids are known to be good for the heart. They can reduce the levels of bad cholesterol, thus lowering your risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke.
- They help prevent inflammation, something which can cause many different health issues. Some of them include cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis and cardiovascular disease.
- Sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids is important for proper brain functioning. They are essential for the developing minds of children as well as for the prevention of Parkinson’s disease in the elderly.
- Omega-3 fatty acids also provide the body with energy.
Natural and Fortified Food Sources of Folic Acid
Pregnant or not, you should obtain sufficient amounts of folic acid in order to enjoy the nutrient’s benefits mentioned above. Here are some foods that naturally contain folic acid:
- Beans (pinto, garbanzo, navy, black and kidney)
- Turnip greens
When grocery shopping, you may come across a number of food products that are fortified with folic acid. Some examples include:
- Baked products (rolls, buns, bagels, muffins, cookies, etc.)
- Breakfast cereals
- Energy bars
- Energy drinks
Natural and Fortified Food Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Rather than pop omega-3 fatty acid capsules in your mouth, you may simply include some wonderful sources of the nutrient in your everyday diet. Some of them are:
- Oily fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, halibut, sardines, trout, etc.)
- Brussels sprouts
There are also many food products at the supermarket these days that are enriched with omega-3 fatty acids. Some common examples include:
- Soy Milk
- Fruit Juices