Why BotherEveryone knows fish is a good source of lean protein—but then again, so is chicken. What makes seafood worth all the trouble is its abundance of omega-3 acids, a polyunsaturated fat that helps lower heart disease rates, prevent cancer, even decrease depression. "Omega-3s really are just as good as you’ve heard," says Jose Antonio, Ph.D., CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Recent studies have found the nutrients especially helpful to athletes: O-3s have anti-inflammatory properties and can help your body recover after exercise. "Fish is the single best food an athlete can eat," Antonio says.
Fatty fishes like salmon, sardines, and albacore tuna are the best sources. Eating two three-ounce servings a week is all adults need to get the most out of o-3s. But most Americans aren’t even near that mark. If you simply don’t like the taste of fish, there are other options. Some plant sources, especially walnuts and canola and flaxseed oil, contain o-3s too, but not the same beneficial types as in seafood. Meanwhile, major food companies have started lacing popular foods—everything from OJ to white bread—with o-3s extracted from fish. These nutraceuticals can also be taken alone as dietary supplements. "It doesn’t matter where you’re getting the omegas, from fresh fish or fish oil pills, as long as you’re getting them," Antonio says. "But fresh is best because then you reap the benefits of the protein too."
Next: The Bottom Line