12 Ways Omega-3 Fatty Acids Can Keep You Healthy

By on April 9, 2013

There has been much research done and many works published advocating the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.

12 Ways Omega-3 Fatty Acids Can Keep You Healthy These polyunsaturated fatty acids are considered to be essential for the proper functioning of our bodies. They are in a class of nutrients whose main purpose is to provide our bodies energy. Unfortunately, our systems do not make these fatty acids naturally. Therefore, it is necessary for us to get them from either the food we eat or from taking omega-3 supplements.

There are three main types of omega-3s: EPA, DHA and ALA. The first two, EPA and DHA, are mostly found in certain kinds of fatty or oily fish (salmon, trout, herring, and sardines), fish oils and algae. These two fatty acids are considered crucial to our good health. On the other hand, ALA is naturally contained in sources such as flaxseed (linseed) as well as pumpkin and hemp seeds, pecans, walnuts, kidney beans, soybeans, and vegetables like spinach and broccoli. Even though ALA is converted partially to EPA and DHA, by the body, some experts think that there are actually more health benefits to DHA and EPA than there is with ALA. Let's take a look at the various ways omega-3s can help us to either stay healthy or improve our overall health.

12 Ways Omega-3 Fatty Acids Can Benefit Our Health:

  1. Lowering of Triglycerides (Blood Fat): Fish oil supplements are thought to help lower the blood's levels of triglycerides. Elevated levels of this type of blood fat are a major risk factor for heart disease.
  2. Lowering of Blood Pressure: Clinical trials show that the consumption of three or more grams of fish oil per day may lower blood pressure in those with untreated hypertension. This is a fairly high dosage so please consult your physician if you are considering doing this.
  3. Improvement of Overall Cardiovascular Health: Every year countless people all over the world suffer life threatening or debilitating heart attacks and strokes. It is well documented that omega-3s seem to decrease the risk of death from these types of heart disease. Fish oil is thought to lower the occurrence of heart arrhythmias. Individuals, who take fish oil, after suffering a heart attack, significantly reduce the probability of having another one. Also, consuming fish one or two times per week can have the added benefit of protecting yourself from having a future stroke. Interestingly, certain cultures (i.e. European, Japanese), who eat a diet full of omega-3 fatty acids (i.e. fish), have less instances of these cardiovascular diseases.
  4. Improve Blood Levels in Diabetes: Diabetes sufferers often have elevated triglyceride levels and low levels of HDL. As mentioned above, omega-3 fatty acids can help to decrease high levels of triglycerides, increase HDL levels as well as lower the levels of apoproteins in the blood. The latter are diabetes markers. So, diabetes patients may want to consider starting to take fish oil. This should be done on the advice of a physician of course.
  5. Reduce Depression: Those same cultures, which have omega-3 rich diets, also have less cases of depression. The effects of antidepressant medications are thought to be increased with taking omega-3 supplements. Another interesting finding shows that a person, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, may have a reduction in depressive symptoms if they use fish oil.
  6. Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease/Dementia: Preliminary research studies seem to show that omega-3s may have protective properties against developing Dementia and Alzheimer's disease. DHA may also slow any memory impairment associated with old age as well as reduce the rate of decline in patients who already have Alzheimer's dementia.
  7. Reduction of ADHD Symptoms: According to some recent research studies, symptoms of ADHD may be lessened in children who are given fish oil supplements. In addition, these studies claim there may be possible benefits to giving fish oil, to a child with ADHD, with respect to improving their cognitive functioning. Additional research is definitely required to substantiate these claims. By no means, is the consumption of fish considered to be a major treatment method for ADHD at this time.
  8. Reduction of Inflammation Associated with Asthma: Once again, more studies are necessary but current evidence is pointing to the potential benefits of omega-3s in lessening the symptoms and severity of asthma. A diet high in these fatty acids may help to reduce the inflammation of the airways associated with this condition. More research is required to prove whether fish oil supplements actually reduce the doses of medication someone requires to control their asthma or if fish oil improves lung function.
  9. Reduction of Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms: EPA and DHA supplements have been found to significantly lower the joint pain and/or stiffness associated with this crippling type of arthritis. Studies also suggest that these supplements may enhance anti-inflammatory drug effectiveness in RA patients.
  10. Improve Bone Strength and Density: Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to help elevate calcium levels in the body which leads to an improvement in bone strength. Some research studies showed that women, over the age of 65 years with osteoporosis, had an increase in bone density after beginning omega-3 supplementation.
  11. Optimize Prenatal Health: The overall health of a pregnant woman and her unborn child can be improved by the mother-to-be taking DHA and EPA fatty acid supplements. Research shows that these two fatty acids seem to be important components in the development of an infant's neurological and visual systems.
  12. Cancer Prevention: Consuming foods rich in omega-3s is thought to prevent the development of certain types of cancer including colorectal, breast and prostate cancers. Experts seem to agree that omega-3 decreases the chances of getting colorectal cancer as well as slowing the progression of same if you already have it. Not all cancer experts agree on the benefits of consuming fatty acids in order to lessen the risk of getting breast cancer. Hence, more study is needed to support this claim. In the case of prostate cancer, studies on certain groups of men seem to indicate that a diet low in fat, eating fish and taking fish oil supplements will help to prevent the chances of getting cancer of the prostate gland.

So….try eating more omega-3 rich foods and/or start taking an omega-3 supplement in order to maintain or improve your general health. A strict daily intake isn't really even necessary in order to accomplish this. Six to eight grams of omega-3, on a weekly basis, is likely all you'll need.

Michael Jessimy
Michael Jessimy
Contributing Writer at ExcelLiving.com
Michael Jessimy is head Pharmacist at one of the largest retail chain pharmacies in Guyana. He is also an accomplished amateur level heavyweight bodybuilder, as well as a former National Elocution Champion. Finally, he has taken his passion for fitness to the next level, being a self published author on the Amazon Kindle Platform.

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