Awareness of the health benefits of many nutrients has dramatically increased in recent years and that includes the health-promoting effects of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that have a growing reputation for their health-promoting properties. These healthy fats are abundant in fatty fish, including tuna, salmon, halibut, and snapper. Flaxseeds and walnuts are also excellent sources.
1. Prevents heart disease
Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids may prevent cardiovascular disease by improving arterial elasticity. It has been found to lower the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats), which can lead to sudden death.
2. Reduce inflammation in the body
High blood levels of omega-3 have been found to result in less inflammation linked with heart disease and arthritis.
3. Regulates high cholesterol levels
Research on Inuit Eskimos, who get high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids from regularly eating fatty fish, have shown to have increased good cholesterol and reduced triglyceride levels (fats in the blood).
4. Reduce the risk of a blood clot
It has shown its anticoagulant properties by altering the ability of platelets in the blood to clot.
5. Beneficial for diabetes
Research studies reveal omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to lower triglycerides and apoproteins, and no adverse effect on glycemic control.
6. Helps fight depression
It may be beneficial for people with mild depression. It enhances the effectiveness of medication as it affects the brain in a different way than antidepressants, so adding them to antidepressant medication is like “attacking the illness from a different front,” according to David Mischoulon, MD, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
7. Lowers blood pressure levels
Research has supported the blood pressure lowering effects of omega-3’s, believed to be due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-coagulant factors.
8. Helps improve brain function
According to Dr. Alex Richardson, a senior research fellow in physiology at Mansfield College, University of Oxford, and Madeleine Portwood, that omega-3’s can improve brain memory and performance by improving blood flow. In a clinical study, it is beneficial to boys with learning and behavioral problems such as temper tantrums and sleep disturbances.
9. Reduce the risk of obesity
Omega-3’s are associated with normal kidney function so that they will process fluid wastes better and thus, let people lose weight faster.
10. Menstrual Pain
Studies on women revealed that those who took fish oil supplements reported less menstrual pain. The two compounds eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are believed to decrease levels of prostaglandins. High levels of prostaglandins in women during menstruation result in increased uterine contractions and muscular spasms.
Is it beneficial for cancer?
Although there are many reports about omega-3’s being beneficial for cancer, a review study published in 2006 by the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that analysis on numerous studies did not find evidence of a significant link between dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids and the incidence of several major types of cancer.
Depression, fatigue, dry and itchy skin, brittle hair and nails, and joint pain are some of the possible symptoms of a need for more omega-3 fatty acids in the body. Too much can increase the risk of bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke. It is best for people who bruise easily, have a bleeding disorder, or are taking blood thinners to ask a doctor before taking any supplements.
There is currently no established RDA for omega-3 fatty acids.