Omega-3 fatty acids are important fats that you must get from your diet.
However, most people don’t know what they are.
So, what are omega-3s?
Omega-3s are a family of essential fatty acids that play important roles in your body and may provide a
number of health benefits. As your body cannot produce them on its own, you must get them from your
The three most important types are ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA
(eicosapentaenoic acid). ALA is mainly found in plants, while DHA and EPA occur mostly in animal foods
and algae. Common foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish, fish oils, flax seeds, chia
seeds, flaxseed oil, and walnuts. For people who do not eat much of these foods, an omega-3
supplement, such as fish oil or algal oil, is often recommended.
So now we know what is Omega-3 and its sources. Let’s talk about some key health benefits of omega-3
fatty acids –
- Omega-3s Can Promote Brain Health During Pregnancy and Early Life
Omega-3s are crucial for brain growth and development in infants. DHA accounts for 40% of the
polyunsaturated fatty acids in our brain and 60% in the retina of our eye. Getting enough omega-3s
during pregnancy is associated with numerous benefits for your child, including –
➢ Higher intelligence
➢ Better communication and social skills
➢ Fewer behavioral problems
➢ Decreased risk of developmental delay
➢ Decreased risk of ADHD, autism and cerebral palsy.
- Omega-3s Can Improve Risk Factors for Heart Disease
Heart attacks and strokes are the world’s leading causes of death. omega-3 fatty acids have been tied to numerous benefits for heart health.
These benefits include-
➢ Omega-3s can cause a major reduction in triglycerides, usually in the range of 15–30%
➢ Blood pressure: Omega-3s can reduce blood pressure levels in people with high blood pressure.
➢ “Good” HDL cholesterol: Omega-3s can raise “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
➢ Blood clots: Omega-3s can keep blood platelets from clumping together. This helps prevent the formation of harmful blood clots.
➢ Inflammation: Omega-3s reduce the production of some substances released during your body’s inflammatory response.
- Omega-3s Can Improve Eye Health
DHA, a type of omega-3, is a major structural component of the retina of our eye. When you don’t get enough DHA, vision problems may arise. Interestingly, getting enough omega-3 is linked to a reduced risk of macular degeneration, one of the world’s leading causes of permanent eye damage and blindness.
- Omega-3 reduces symptoms of ADHD
Omega-3 can reduce the symptoms of ADHD in children. They improve attention and reduce
hyperactivity, impulsiveness and aggression.
- Omega-3s Can Fight Depression and Anxiety
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the world. Anxiety, also a common disorder, is characterized by constant worry and nervousness. Interestingly, studies indicate that people who consume omega-3s regularly are less likely to be depressed.
There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, EPA and DHA. Of the three, EPA appears to be the best at fighting depression.
- Omega-3s Can Reduce Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a collection of conditions. It includes central obesity — also known as belly fat —
as well as high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high triglycerides and low “good” HDL cholesterol levels. It is a major public health concern because it increases your risk of many other illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes.
Omega-3 fatty acids can improve insulin resistance, inflammation and heart disease risk factors in people with metabolic syndrome.
- Omega-3s Can Fight Autoimmune Diseases
In autoimmune diseases, your immune system mistakes healthy cells for foreign cells and starts
attacking them. Type 1 diabetes is one prime example, in which your immune system attacks the insulin producing cells in your pancreas. Omega-3s can combat some of these diseases and may be especially important during early life. Studies show that getting enough omega-3s during your first year of life is linked to a reduced risk of many autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes, autoimmune diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Omega-3s also help treat lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis.
- Omega-3s May Help Prevent Cancer
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the Western world, and omega-3 fatty acids have long been claimed to reduce the risk of certain cancers. Interestingly, studies show that people who consume the most omega-3s have up to a 55% lower risk of colon cancer. Additionally, omega-3 consumption is linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women.
- Omega-3 Fats Are Good for Your Skin
DHA is a structural component of your skin. It is responsible for the health of cell membranes, which make up a large part of your skin. A healthy cell membrane results in soft, moist, supple and wrinkle free skin. EPA also benefits your skin in several ways, including Managing oil production and hydration of your skin. Preventing hyper-keratinization of hair follicles,
which appears as the little red bumps often seen on upper arms. Reducing premature aging of your skin. Reducing the risk of acne.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Improve Sleep
Good sleep is one of the foundations of optimal health. Studies tie sleep deprivation to many diseases, including obesity, diabetes and depression. Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids are associated with sleep problems in children and obstructive sleep apnea in adults. Low levels of DHA are also linked to lower levels of the hormone melatonin, which helps you fall asleep. Studies in both children and adults reveal that supplementing with omega-3 increases the length and quality of sleep.