Omega-3 fatty acids, often referred to as “good fats,” may not be as well-known as other nutrients, but they’re actually quite important for our health. Omega-3 is considered essential because our bodies cannot make them on its own, so they must come from food or supplements.
What are omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are found in different foods, including fish, seafood, nuts, eggs, and flaxseed. These are polyunsaturated fats that are essential for the health of the body and brain. Here, it essentially implies that the human body is not capable of making them. You will have to consume food items or dietary supplements to fulfill the requirement of omega-3 fatty acids in your body.
What are the different types of omega-3 fatty acids?
There are mainly three types of omega-3 fatty acids:
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid): This is the most common type of omega 3 fatty acid that is found in the diet of a human being. Plants and animal fats are the main sources from which one can procure alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid): Eicosapentaenoic acid is used by the human body to produce eicosanoids (signalling molecules), the main function of which is to play physiological roles and lower the level of inflammation. Scientific research showed that EPA reduces the number of hot flashes in menopausal women.
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid): It is the vital structural component found in the skin and retinas of an individual's eyes. Being found mostly in seafood, it is great for treating several health issues such as arthritis, some cancers, high blood pressure, etc.
What are the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega 3 fatty acids are considered great for treating several health issues. Below-given are some Omega-3 Fatty Acids Benefits:
- Cardiovascular diseases: You can find numerous clinical studies stating the importance of the consumption of omega-3 fish oil for heart patients. For example, consuming EPA and DHA from different food items or dietary supplements helps in reducing the levels of triglyceride in the body.
It is recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) that eating a minimum of two servings of seafood every week can reduce the risk of heart problems in individuals. And people already suffering from different types of heart diseases should consume at least 1 g of EPA plus DHA every day. Plaque is the reason why your arteries are becoming hard. Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids smoothens the arteries and thus, prevents them from plaque.
- Promoting the health of the brain during pregnancy and early life: Clinical researches have shown that omega-3 fatty acids play a major role in the growth and development of the infant's brain. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are suggested to intake at least 8-12 ounces of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for the better health of their kids. 40% of the polyunsaturated fatty acids derived from the DHA are found in the brain of an individual and 60% is found in the retina of the eyes. Therefore, it can be concluded that an infant consuming DHA will have a more developed brain and better eyesight compared to the one not consuming DHA.
- Fights against depression and anxiety: Many people nowadays are suffering from different mental health issues. Depression and anxiety are the major ones. Symptoms one is facing from either depression or anxiety are tiredness, constant worry, sadness, negative thoughts, and nervousness. Various clinical studies have concluded that people can lower the chances of depression or anxiety by consuming omega-3 fatty acids on a regular basis. Out of the three types of main omega-3 fatty acids, DHA is recommended as the best one for fighting mental issues. Even in one study, it was found that EPA works as an antidepressant drug for patients suffering from depression.
- Helps in reducing the symptoms of ADHD: ADHD, known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a behavioural disorder in children, the symptoms of which are inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Numerous clinical studies conducted by scientists show that children with a lower level of omega-3 fatty acids are more prone to ADHD than healthy children. It has been observed by different studies that omega-3 fatty acids contribute a lot in reducing aggression, inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness in children. According to recent studies, by intaking the best fish oil supplement, children can treat their ADHD to a great extent.
- Helps in treating the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome: Metabolic Syndrome is a collection of various health conditions, including central obesity, high blood pressure, low level of 'good' HDL cholesterol, and high level of triglycerides. It is majorly important to treat this particular disease as it can also cause several other health problems such as heart diseases and diabetes. People suffering from metabolic syndrome can improve their body's insulin resistance and reduce the inflammation and risk of heart disease by consuming the appropriate quantity of omega-3 fatty acids.
Can it be harmful to consume omega-3 fatty acids?
It is recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to consume a maximum of 5g of omega-3 fatty acids per day and that combined from dietary supplements. In case if a person suffers from the side-effects of intaking omega-3 fatty acids, then they will be mild. An individual might suffer from bad breath, headache, stomach discomfort, nausea, or bad body odour. Keep in mind to recommend from your family doctor before consuming the specific quantity of omega-3 fatty acids.
From where can I get omega-3 fatty acids to avail of the health benefits?
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are a vital component for health that can be obtained from different food items. These include seafood, fish, animal fats, plants, soybean, flaxseed, juices, beverages, eggs, canola oils, and many more. If you can't consume any of these items, then you can fulfill your requirement by intaking the omega-3 supplement. Before you consume any omega-3 supplement, do consult your doctor. Your doctor knows well about your health and the amount of omega-3 fatty acid beneficial for your body.
Thus, we can rightly say omega-3 fatty acids are a very important part of a healthy diet. They are vital for the proper development of the brain and retina of an infant. They can be used to treat the symptoms of mental health issues and metabolic syndrome. In a way, they help us to fight many diseases, making us live a healthy life.