Omega 3- Your BFF (Best Fat Friend)Luke Coutinho
Omega-3 fatty acids have received a lot of importance, and earned an excellent deal of respect off late, but do you know what omega-3s are? What are the omega-3 benefits that can convince you to include more of their food sources in your diet?
We will unpack these questions one by one, but let us start by saying that omega-3 fatty acids are crucial nutrients for overall health. Your body does not produce omega-3s on its own, which suggests they are “essential fatty acids”, and you have got to consume them.
When it involves omega-3 benefits, there are rarely nutrients that pack these many positive health outcomes into one compound. The foremost commonly known advantage of omega-3s could be a reduced risk of heart condition, but that is not the sole reason for getting omega-3 in your diet.
Omega-3 benefits everything from foetal development to retinal function, weight management, and a ton more benefits. These acids support and promote optimal health for anyone.
What are Omega-3s?
According to the official omega-3 fatty acids definition, omega-3s are a category of essential fatty acid related to an extended list of potential health benefits.
The four commonest omega-3s found in food are ALA, EPA, ETA, and DHA.
- Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA): This plant-based omega-3 can be found in green, leafy vegetables; walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds; and canola and soybean oils (although these rancid oils are not ones we recommend). ALA is a short-chain omega-3.2.
- Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA): EPA is a 20-carbon carboxylic acid found in oily fish, algae oil, and krill oil. Your body can synthesize this molecule in its original form. EPA and DHA are the omega-3s your body needs in high quantities to benefit from the rewards they provide.
- Eicosatetraenoic Acid (ETA): ETA is a lesser-known omega-3 carboxylic acid that also contains 20 carbons, like EPA, but only four bonds instead of five. It is found richly in roe oil and green-lipped mussels. It has only recently been recognized for its potent health benefits. Not only is it anti-inflammatory, just like the other omega-3s, but ETA can also limit your body’s production of the inflammatory omega-6 carboxylic acid arachidonic acid (ARA). In fact, ETA redirects the enzyme that typically creates ARA, and converts it to EPA instead.
- Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA): This 22-carbon molecule is additionally found in oily fish, krill oil, and algae oil. Your body converts some DHA molecules back to EPA to retain them at relatively equal levels, if you consume more DHA.
Your body also needs omega-6s, another kind of carboxylic acid, to function correctly and forestall disease. Omega-6s are available with some types of linoleic acid. They are found in oil, grains, eggs, and so on. And while they are essential, the ratio in which it is present in the body compared to omega 3 is important.
Unfortunately, omega 6 is found in far more abundance than omega-3s, although your body craves a 1:1 ratio to keep inflammation low. Junk or processed foods contain a ratio closer to 20:1 or 30:1 of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.
The ideal ratio of omega-6 foods to omega-3 in foods should be a minimum of 4:1.
What are the risks of consuming insufficient amounts of omega-3s or too many omega-6s?
- Inflammation (sometimes severe)
- Higher risk for cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol
- Digestive disorders
- Joint and muscle pain
- Mental disorders like depression
- Poor brain development
- Cognitive decline
Health Benefits of Omega 3
- Good for Heart Health:
One of the foremost and well-known benefits of omega-3s is that they positively affect risk factors related to heart conditions. Heart conditions and stroke are the leading causes of death worldwide, but communities, who eat diets rich in fish, have remarkably low instances of those diseases. Here is what we understand about heart issues or risks, including strokes and heart attacks, and omega-3s:
Lowering high triglycerides: The American Heart Association recognizes that omega-3s are generally needed for people with high triglycerides, a severe risk factor for heart conditions.
Regulating cholesterol: Research finds that omega-3 benefits cholesterol levels by raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels.
Lowering high blood pressure: A 2010 study found that three servings of salmon weekly successfully reduced pressure in young and overweight people over an eight-week period.
Preventing plaque build-up: Alongside keeping the arteries away from damage, omega-3s may also help your body prevent plaque build-up liable for hardening and restriction of the arteries.
Reduce metabolic syndrome symptoms: The cluster of risk factors referred to as Metabolic Syndrome includes abdominal obesity, high blood glucose, high triglycerides, high vital sign, and low HDL cholesterol. These risk factors indicate a high possibility of developing a heart condition, stroke, or diabetes. Multiple studies have found that omega-3 supplementation improves these symptoms, and helps guard you against the related diseases.
Preventing blood clots: It is evident that omega-3s help prevent platelets from clumping together, aiding in the prevention of blood clots that can cause significant harm.
2. May Fight Mental Disorders and Decline:
There are various conditions associated with the brain and its psychological state that appear to improve when individuals get sufficient omega-3s.
Depression and anxiety: These common psychological states tend to overpower most individuals today. However, those who regularly get good amounts of omega-3s are less likely to be depressed than those that are deficient in them.
ADHD: Studies comparing omega-3 levels in children have discovered that those with ADHD diagnoses have lower blood omega-3 fatty acids than healthy comparison subjects. Promising results seem to agree that there is some effectiveness of omega-3s for ADHD.
Schizophrenia: A meta-analysis conducted by the Saint Louis University School of drugs found that multiple studies comparing omega-3s and schizophrenia found modestly positive results, specifically within the disease’s early stages.
Bipolar disorder: Also referred to as manic depressive illness, this emotional disorder may be a complex and sometimes debilitating condition. There is evidence to suggest that omega-3 benefits bipolar sufferers by helping to stabilize their mood.
Other mental disease and behaviours: Some studies have found correlations between omega-3s and a decrease in violence, antisocial behaviour, and borderline mental disorder.
Alzheimer’s and age-related mental decline: Small clinical trials have seen a potentially neuroprotective effect of omega-3 fats on people affected by dementia, age-related mental decline, and even Alzheimer’s disease. It seems that prime levels of omega-3s within the blood can slow or reverse some cognitive decline.
3. Reduce Inflammation:
One reason why omega-3 fatty acids can also be so beneficial to several health aspects shared above might be that they help decrease system-wide inflammation. Inflammation is at the foundation of most diseases, and is said to be the progression of nearly every major illness. By eating a nutrient-dense and anti-inflammatory diet, you give your body the ability to fight diseases, like it was designed to.
4. Linked to Preventing and Managing Autoimmune Diseases:
Characterized by the system attacking its healthy cells, autoimmune conditions include diseases like type 1 diabetes, lupus, atrophic arthritis, colitis, MS, leaky gut syndrome, and many more.
Multiple studies have found links between high omega-3 intake, and a decreased risk for autoimmune disorders or improved autoimmune disease symptoms. A number of these suggest the most protective effects come, when omega-3 fatty acids are consumed in high amounts within the first year of life.
5. Related to Lowered Cancer Risks:
Through several epidemiological studies, during which researchers observe trends in large population samples over time, it seems possible that prime levels of omega-3 fats could also be related to a lowered risk of certain cancers.
6. May Support Healthy Bones and Joints:
The issue of osteoporosis may be a significant factor for older adults, affecting many people worldwide.
Essential fatty acids, including omega-3s, are recognized in research as ready to increase the quantity of calcium you absorb from your gut (partly by enhancing the vitamin D effect), and improve the strength of your bones and synthesis of bone collagen.
7. Might Improve Sleep Quality:
Children, especially, seem to experience sleep problems once they do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids in their diets. In adults, low omega-3 levels are related to obstructive apnoea. One reason for this might be that low omega-3s are linked to lower levels of melatonin, the hormone partly liable for helping you fall asleep in the first place.
The good news is that sleep deprivation tends to improve in patients treated with omega-3 supplementation in adults and youngsters alike.
8. Beneficial for Infant and Child Development:
It seems that infancy and childhood are important periods of time during a person’s life to include plenty of omega-3s within their diet, probably due to the quantity of long-chain fatty acids found within the brain and retina. It is crucial for developing babies and youngsters to urge a decent amount of DHA and EPA, so their brains and eyes develop fully and adequately.
Pregnant moms should be particularly conscious of this, because children with mothers who supplement with omega-3s during pregnancy score better on mental processing, psychomotor skills, hand-eye coordination, and audio processing tests at nine months, and at 4 years old. These children also seem to possess lowered ADHD risk.
It is possible that supplementing with EPA, ETA, and DHA can even help prevent spastic paralysis, autism spectrum disorders, and asthma in some children.
9. May Fight Menstrual Pain:
PMS cramps affect about 75 per cent of menstruating women, and become debilitating and affect work or home life for a few of them. However, research shows that supplementing with omega-3s significantly affects menstrual symptoms, making them milder.
One study comparing ibuprofen and fish oil supplements during adolescent PMS found that the supplement worked better to alleviate menstrual pain than quality medication.
10. Linked to Lowered Degeneration Risk:
Your retina contains quite a little bit of DHA, making it necessary for that fatty acid to function. High omega-3 levels are significantly correlated with a lower risk of age-related degeneration, the leading explanation for blindness in those over 60 years old.
11. Support Healthy Skin and Slow Ageing:
In many similar ways, omega-3 fatty acids protect your bone density, and also help your skin stay beautiful from within. DHA and EPA both benefit your skin by managing natural oil (sebum) production, and by slowing down ageing.
Some studies even show omega-3 benefits the skin by helping to stop acne and related inflammation.
Food Sources of Omega 3:
By coupling omega-3s with vitamin E (almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame oil, and so on), you are likely to absorb more of the nutrient without them causing any havoc of oxidation.
The foods highest in dietary omega-3 fats include:
- 100g of salmon, tuna, mackerel, Bombay duck, and pomfret (mercury-free)
- 1 bowl of Kidney beans
- 1 cup of Black gram dal
- 1 bowl of Chickpeas
- 1 tablespoon of flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and hemp seeds
- 7-8 almonds or walnuts
- 1 bowl of cooked green leafy vegetables (fenugreek, spinach, parsley, amaranth leaves, dill leaves, and so on)
It is best to get your dose of fatty acids from omega-3 foods, since they supply other nutrients that benefit your health as well, like vitamin K, folate, phosphorus, and so on.
Risks and Side Effects:
When introducing more omega-3s into your diet, the main precaution generally comes from the by-products found in some seafood, like mercury, and other industrial chemicals. As always, if you opt to start with employing a supplement to increase your omega-3 intake, confirm you are doing so under the supervision of your health care provider, who can monitor and advise you in the event you experience an adverse reaction.
- Omega-3s are a kind of essential fatty acid your body needs for a good number of natural system functions.
- Most people do not consume enough omega-3 fats and/or have an improper ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s (the right balance is about, below or equal to 4:1).
- The three kinds of omega-3s are ALA, EPA and DHA.
- Getting plenty of omega-3 fats in your diet is related to improved heart health, psychological state or brain decline, inflammation, autoimmune diseases, and cancer.
- The best strategy to get enough omega-3s is by eating foods rich in the nutrient.
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