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Benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids

  • Posted on- Nov 30, 2015
  • 710 Views

Omega 3 fatty acids are the essential fatty acids that are required for the normal functioning of the body. These fatty acids cannot be synthesised by the body and hence, have to be taken through diet. These are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are required for the brain function, as well as the normal growth of an individual. They are beneficial for everyone as they help lower the risk of various diseases, which result due to aging.

Countless advantages of consuming omega 3 fatty acids

High Blood Pressure
Foods rich in these fatty acids are known to significantly reduce the blood pressure levels in people affected by high blood pressure. Consuming about 3gms of fish oil, which is rich in omega 3 acids every day, drastically reduces the risk of hypertension.

Heart Disease
Omega 3 fatty acids help treat and prevent heart diseases. A low fat diet rich in these fatty acids can reduce the risk of death due to heart diseases. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is a type of omega 3 fatty acid which is most effective in treating heart diseases. Similarly, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) also reduce the risk of fatal heart attacks. However, consumption of more than 3gms of omega 3 fatty acids, from fish oil supplements can put you at a greater risk of strokes, due to ruptured arteries.

Diabetes
People with diabetes have higher levels  of triglycerides and lower levels of HDL (good cholesterol). Intake of omega 3 fatty acids helps increase the level of HDL and decreases the level of triglycerides and apoproteins, which are the markers of diabetes. EPA and DHA are the types of omega 3 fatty acids that are more effective in treating diabetes. ALA is not very effective, as people affected by diabetes have reduced capacity to convert it into a usable form.

Arthritis
These fatty acids reduce the tenderness and inflammation in the joints. They also inhibit the activity of the enzyme responsible for the destruction of cartilage. They also increase grip strength and reduce joint stiffness. However, while opting for a diet rich in omega acids for the treatment of arthritis, it is necessary to incorporate foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, and avoid foods rich in omega 6 fatty acids, as the latter could be responsible for causing inflammation.

Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition mostly found in post-menopausal women. It is a calcium deficiency disorder, which reduces the bone density. EPA increases the level of calcium in blood and improves the bone density. These acids also impart strength to the weakened bones.

Other Benefits
Besides helping in alleviating the symptoms of the above mentioned chronic ailments, these acids also help in improving other health conditions.
  • Overweight people may also benefit from these fatty acids, as these can help bring about weight loss.
  • Following a diet lacking in these fatty acids may result in depression, as they are the main components of nerve membrane.
  • They are also used in cosmetic industry due to their several skin benefits.
  • These are also helpful in the treatment of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
  • Their benefits for women include the treatment of menstrual cramps and menopausal symptoms.
  • The fatty acid may increase sexual power and cure problems related to the prostate gland.
  • Their benefits for pregnant women are myriad however, their supplements should be taken as recommended by the physician.

Best sources of omega 3 fatty acids

Fish and Fish Oil
The most popular and widely available source of omega 3 fatty acids is cold water fish. It is important to know that fishes do not synthesis these fatty acids themselves, but get them from the plankton or algae they feed on. Fishes like salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines have high content of omega 3 fatty acids whereas tuna, king mackerel, snapper have relatively low content of fatty acids in them. Fish oil is another important source of omega 3 fatty acids and comparatively cheaper as well.

Eggs & Meat
Corn, soybeans, canola seeds, flax, etc., make the major diet of hens. These dietary sources of hens are supposed to be rich in ALA. Eggs are produced by hens hence, eggs and meat both have high content of omega 3 fatty acids.

Sources of omega 3 fatty acids for vegetarians

For those, who are vegetarians or simply avoid eating fish, can resort to simpler sources of getting omega 3 fatty acids. These popular vegetarian sources are highly fortified with omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Seeds: Flaxseed or linseed is perhaps the most popular and widely used source of omega 3. Although it contains hardly any amount of DHA and EPA, but it is fortified with a very good amount of ALA which makes it the richest source of omega 3 even before fishes. Hemp seeds, sesame seeds and leafy vegetables are other sources of omega 3.
  • Nuts: Nuts like butternuts, walnuts, pecan-nuts and hazelnuts are fantastic sources of omega 3 acids and taste delicious at the same time.

The list of omega 3 benefits is never ending. However, to avail the true benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, one must make them an important part of their diet in appropriate proportion only.