For the past many decades, the scientists have been trying to discover the several health benefits of omega3 fats.
Our body don’t produce omega-3s on its own. But, we need to consume them for health benefits. You can get omega3s from plant as well as animal sources. Whereas, krill oil & fish oil are main animal sources; flaxseeds, chia seeds & hemp seeds are the key plant sources. Read on, if you are keen to know: What is Omega 3?, Omega 3s types & Is Omega 3 good for you?
What Are Omega 3 Fatty Acids?
Omega 3 fatty acids are the “good fat” and considered as an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. They are a class of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids that comprise of more than one double bond in their unique chemical structure. Your body has trillions of cells, and omega three fatty acids are needed to make many of these cells function properly.
What Does Omega 3 Do?
When it comes to omega 3 uses, there is hardly any other compound that packs so many rare nutrients that have positive impacts on your health. We’ll unpack these health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids one by one.
Let’s start by saying that there are enough scientific bases to support the fact that omega-3 fatty acids are vital nutrients that are needed for your overall health.
Types Of Omega-3s
The three types of omega-3 found in foods are ALA, EPA and DHA.
(i) Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA): This type is generally plant based. Although, it plays a role in maintaining your body in a healthy state, but EPA and DHA have much more health benefits (Source: (1, 2).
Green, leafy vegetables, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and vegetables oils are good source of ALA. However, we don’t recommend rancid oils.
ALA is a short-chain omega-3. Your body has to transform it into longer-chained EPA and DHA so as to synthesize it. This process is quite inefficient and only around 1% of the ALA you intake is transformed in to the long-chain kind that your body needs (though this % is a tad higher for women).
(ii) Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA): This is a 20-carbon molecule type. Oily fish, algae oil and krill oil are good source of EPA. Your body can synthesize this fatty acid in its original form. This, together with DHA, are the omega-3 types that your body require in high amounts so as to utilize effectively the benefits they provide.
(iii) Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA): This fatty acid is in the form of 22-carbon molecule. Like EPA, oily fish, algae oil and krill oil are good source of DHA as well. Your body can transform some DHA molecules back to EPA’s so as to maintain them at more or less same levels if you intake more DHA. (Source: 3)
Your body also requires another type of fatty acid, omega-6s, so as to make your immunity and other body systems function properly and to keep many diseases at bay. Though your body needs omega 3s and omega 6 in a 1:1 proportion to maintain inflammation low, but omega 6 are present in plenty in a normal American diet as compared to omega-3s. Typically the modern diets comprise of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in a ratio closer to 20:1 or 30:1.
Omega-6 fatty acids are available naturally in some form of linoleic acid (LA) and can be obtained from safflower oils, vegetable oils,poultry, eggs and meat, .
Omega 3 Fatty Acids Benefits
So, you must be wondering: What is omega 3 good for?
Good for Heart Health
One of the most well-known omega 3s benefits is the positive effect, which they have on risk factors connected with heart disease. This is the reason for which American Heart Association recommends people to get adequate omega 3s in their diets. (Source: 4)
Heart disease and stroke are the main reasons of death all over world, but communities whose diets include lots of fish have noticeably low instances of heart diseases, which is at least partly because of their high omega-3 consumption. (Source: 5, 6)
Lowering Elevated High Triglycerides
The American Heart Association acknowledges that the highest quantities of omega-3s are normally good for people with high triglycerides level, a key risk factor associated with heart disease. Omega-3 supplements can lower triglyceride levels in patients with or without other diseases. (Source: 10, 11, 12)
Many studies have discovered omega-3 helps regulate cholesterol levels by increasing HDL (“good cholesterol”) levels, though some studies also find a minor increase in LDL – “bad cholesterol” (Source: 13, 14). The ideal relative amounts of HDL: LDL should be very close to 2:1.
Lowering High Blood Pressure
According to one 2010 study, 3 servings of salmon per week successfully reduced blood pressure in young, overweight people over a period of 8 weeks (Source: 15). Although, this is not conclusive proof that omega-3s can bring down blood pressure, but it’s a promising result that needs more research.
Decrease Metabolic Syndrome Symptoms:
The band of risk factors called metabolic syndrome comprises of abdominal obesity, elevated blood sugar, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood pressure and low HDL cholesterol. These risk factors are signs of high probability that you will suffer from heart disease, stroke or diabetes. Many studies have observed omega-3 supplementation treat the symptoms of metabolic syndrome and may help to save you from the associated diseases. (Source: 18, 19, 20, 21)
Preventing Blood Clots
May Help In Maintaining Healthy Bones And Joints
The development of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis is major issue for older adults, affecting major population all over the world – main reason for fall and fractures in old age (Source: 24).
Omega-3s and other essential fatty acids are acknowledged in scientific research as key nutrients to boost the quantity of calcium you absorb from your gut (partially because of stimulating the vitamin D effect). This leads to improvement in bones strength and synthesis of bone collagen (Source: 25).
Whereas there is no scientific evidence that fish oil supplements (EPA+DHA) can avert the development of arthritis, it has been found that they can limit joint pain and stiffness. Omega-3 supplements also seem to decrease inflammation and increase the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs, which otherwise can result into stiffness and joint pains (Source: 26).
Depression And Anxiety
These mental health issues are quite common in the people in the present era. The conventional medications are mostly ineffective. However, individuals who consistently take enough amounts of omega-3s are less prone to depression as compared to those who are lacking in omega3s. (Source: 28)
Several studies have found that people whose diets include foods rich in omega-3s have much lesser symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.
Fish oil has been found to augment the effectiveness of antidepressants and helps in stabilizing depressing mood symptoms.
Inflammation is the main cause for majority of illnesses and leads to development of nearly all-major diseases.
Thus by including nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods in your daily diet, you can provide your body enough ammunition to fight diseases. This is the reason why omega-3 fatty acids are so useful – they help reduce inflammation. (Source: 29, 30, 31, 32, 33).