omega 3 facts and benefits

Omega-3 Fatty Acids — Facts and Benefits


Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated with a double bond. They are considered “healthy fats” that are good for the body, as opposed to trans-fats and saturated fats.

Types of Omega 3

There are three kinds of omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are primarily found in fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, and other seafoods. ALA can be found primarily in plant sources such as flaxseed.

Omega 3 Benefits

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that display a wide array of health benefits. They are considered so beneficial that even the American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week. The following are a few benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids that are supported by studies and research.

1. Supports Cardiovascular Health

Consumption of fish or omega-3 fatty acids may aid people with various cardiovascular problems by improving blood circulation and breaking down fibrin, which plays a major role in clot formation. Also, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce blood pressure, appear to reduce blood triglyceride levels and decrease the risk for heart attack.

Consumption of ALA (the plant derived fatty acid), however,  does not demonstrate the same level of cardiovascular protection as does the EPA and DHA which are found more abundantly in fish.

In 2006, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) both released studies that supported the claim that regular consumption of fish oils ( omega-3 fatty acids) results in decreases in total mortality and cardiovascular incidents such as myocardial infarctions.

Omega 3’s also have a positive effect on one’s lipid profile. In a study conducted in 2007, the American Journal of Health System Pharmacy stated that patients with triglycerides levels above 500 mg/dl were given 4 grams of EPA and DHA daily. This reduced their triglycerides by an average of 45% and VLDL cholesterol by more than 50%.

Omega-3 fatty acids also have mild antihypertensive effects. In 1993, the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that patients who consumed omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) regularly reduced their systolic blood pressure by about 3.5-5.5 mmHg.

2. Helps Prevent Cancer

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are not restricted solely to the cardiovascular system. Many studies have been done linking omega-3 fatty acids to preventing cancers such as breast and colon cancer.

3. Rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease

Omega-3’s have also been linked to reducing pain in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis as well as helping relieve the effects of  of Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Supports Baby Development

DHA found in fish oil has significant positive impacts on fetal growth and development. Fish oil supports neurological and sight improvement in the baby. Researches claim that kids who do not receive from their mother sufficient levels of Omega 3 are more prone to develop nerve and vision disorders.

5. Improves Condition in ADHD

Some tentative studies propose that fish oil serves in the improvement of ADHD and other cognitive conditions in children. It helps in quick learning, sharp memory,responsiveness.and also improve behavioral issues; however, more evidence is required. Regardless, consuming  reasonable amounts of Omega-3 is still recommended.

6. Protects Against Dementia

Although preliminary research in this case has failed to provide evidence to establish Omega 3’s efficacy to prevent dementia, poor levels of Omega-3 are found in people who are diagnosed for dementia.

7. Kicks Off Depression

There is enough evidence to claim that Omega-3 has a powerful defense against depression. It is also known to boost the effect of antidepressants.

A Norwegian study consisting of 22,000 subjects concluded that those who took cod liver, which is rich in Omega-3 remained mentally healthy for a longer period of time as compared to those who didn’t. The conclusion was supported by 30% evidence and the subjects remaining on the deprived diet were exposed to high levels of depression.

8. Macular Degeneration

Omega 3 prolongs sustenance in body organs. Researches show that people who have a dietary balance of fish oil and fishes, are less likely to develop macular degeneration — an eye disorder which progresses with age and can lead to blindness.

Cautions to be Exercised

All the benefits stated above have long been benefiting people with health disorders of mild and serious nature. Medical studies have also supported Omega 3’s effectiveness; however, caution must be exercised, especially by pregnant or nursing women, when consuming fish or omega-3 supplements in excess because they may be exposed to harmful levels of mercury.

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