You’ve probably heard about these at some point over the last few years and the basic idea is that the human body requires essential fatty acids for maintaining good health. It can make most types of fats with the exception of Omega-3 fatty acids. Since the body doesn’t make them you must get them from food. Now we discuss Why Omega-3’s are good for you! Don’t feel at all put off by some of the technical sounding parts of the article, just grab the mentioned foods and enjoy the benefits.
OK, so there are three main types of Omega-3’s:
- 1. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- 2. Docosahexaenoic (DHA) come from marine animals such as fish hence they are sometimes called marine omegas.
- 3. Alpha linolenic acid (ALA) can be found in plant based sources such as vegetable oils, flaxseeds/oil, nuts, leafy vegetables and some animal fat. The western diet is mostly comprised of this form of Omega-3. The body converts ALA into EPA and DHA, though conversion is very limited.
For decades’ experts have researched the health advantages conferred by Omega-3s. Most experts would argue it is one of the most essential nutrients to humans:
Heart health -many studies have found that supplementing with fish oils reduced the risk of heart attack/stroke. The same applied for those who consumed fish twice or more per week. Fish oil also seems to prevent and treat atherosclerosis by slowing the development of plaque and blood clots.
Regulating cholesterol levels -in comparison to statins (a class of lipid-lowering medications) fish oils are more efficient at regulating cholesterol triglyceride levels.
Brain cognition -EPA and DHA help to maintain high levels of dopamine in the brain, increase neural growth and increased cerebral circulation. In children, studies have shown a link between increased DHA consumption with improved reading, memory and decrease in behavioural problems.
Skin disorders -EPA has been shown to greatly benefit the skin by regulating oil production to boost hydration and delay the ageing process. Omega-3 can also reduce inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, eczema and dermatitis.
Anti-inflammatory -Though acute inflammation serves a beneficial role to the body, some of its manifestations can be uncomfortable (heat, pain, swelling, etc). Studies have found the exact mechanism of action that sends ‘stop signals’ but also triggers the active resolution of inflammation. Therefore, supplementation with Omega-3’s can be an effective way of reducing inflammation.
Other ailments and conditions that are reported to benefit from Omega-3 consumption include high blood pressure, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, macular degeneration, menstrual pain, colon cancer, breast and prostate cancer. All the mentioned conditions have some form of scientific evidence behind the claim.
The primary sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are fish, plants and nut oils. EPA and DHA are found in cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines and herring. ALA is found in flaxseed/oil, soybeans, pumpkin seeds/oil, walnuts and any other seeds and nuts. Supplement versions of both fish and plant based Omegas are available.
In terms of precautions do notify your healthcare provider if intending to supplement as Omega-3’s can contraindicate certain medication due to its blood thinning effect. Furthermore, try to select a supplement that has been well purified, that is to say one that has reduced toxins.