Everything You Need to Know About Omega-3 Fatty Acids
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Everything You Need to Know About Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fats have earned a negative reputation in the past among Indians. And that’s quite justified as some fats (mainly saturated and trans fats) lead to several heart problems. However, not all types of fats are harmful. Some types even benefit your body in multiple ways. And one such type of fat is omega-3 fatty acids.

Want to know what omega-3 fatty acids, it’s benefits and types are? If you said, yes, this article is for you. Below, you’ll find all the information you need about Omega-3 Fatty Acids. So, let’s begin.

What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are the essential fatty acids that your body needs for weight management, fetal development and to maintain cell membranes. As these fatty acids aren’t produced by our body and are to be taken from the food we eat, they are termed as essential fatty acids.   

What are the types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

There are three important types of omega-3 fatty acids: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Let’s talk about them in detail below:

ALA

ALA or Alpha linoleic acid is the most abundant fatty acid in your diet.  The body majorly uses ALA for producing energy. However, ALA can also be converted into DHA or EPA, which are the active forms of omega-3.
ALA occurs in the chloroplast of leafy green vegetables. ALA is abundantly found in flax seeds as well. It’s available in smaller quantities in canola oil, walnuts, hemp, and soybean.

EPA

Eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA is commonly found in marine animals, mainly fatty fishes. It’s a PUFA and is liquid at room temperature. EPA is quite essential for a healthy cardiovascular function, inflammatory response and also helps in fetal development.  

DHA

DHA is quite similar to EPA. Also known as docosahexaenoic acid, it’s commonly found in marine animals and some algae. DHA exists in liquid form at room temperature and is a polyunsaturated fatty acid. Similar to EPA, it helps in fetal development and ensures good cardiovascular health.

What are the health benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Here are some of the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids:

Improves Heart health

Heart issues (CHD) are quite prevalent in India, especially among older people. It’s mainly because of the poor diet intake and low physical workout. However, with the right intake of omega 3 fatty acids, you can keep heart diseases in control.

For instance, a study observed a noticeable decrease of coronary heart diseases in people who consumed the required amount of omega 3 fatty acids.

Helps prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that affects older adults and is related to inflammation in the joints. RA actually suppresses the inflammatory response which further affects the bones and joints pretty badly.

Fortunately, by consuming omega 3 fatty acids, you can increase the production of anti-inflammatory mediators that can ease the RA. However, consuming Omega 3 fatty acids is known to exhibit short term benefits only.

Helps Pregnant Women

Regular consumption of omega 3 fatty acids helps in better cognitive development in infants. So, if you’re pregnant, you should opt for foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids. DHA is known to help normal brain development in infants which is another benefit for pregnant women.  

Improves Bone Health

Ample amount of calcium along with omega 3 fatty acids help in building bone density. And this means healthy bones. Also, fish oil supplements help inhibit and slow bone breakdown and further improve calcium absorption.

Hypertension and Beauty Care

Some omega 3 fatty acids supplements are known to slightly reduce blood pressure which is the prime reason behind hypertension.
Leukotriene B4 production is reduced with Omega 3 intake. It’s a substance that causes symptoms of eczema. So, with omega 3 intake, you can prevent eczema and achieve clear skin. Furthermore, with omega 3, you can nourish your scalp and prevent hair fall and hair thinning.

How to consume Omega 3 fatty acids?

You can go for food items rich in Omega 3 fatty acids such as:

●    Seeds and nuts such as chia seeds, walnuts, and flax seeds
●    Fortified food items like yoghurt, bread or eggs.
●    Sea food such as fishes (fatty fishes such as tuna, mackerel, salmon, sardines)
●    Plant oils such as canola oil, soybean oil and flaxseed oil.

Apart from the naturally occurring food items, you can also go for fish oil capsules. Such capsules are quite effective for almost everyone. However, make sure to ask your doctor before consuming it.

Wrapping Up

Not all fats are bad. And Omega 3 fatty acids are a good example of that. Such fats, if consumed in the right manner, can bring numerous benefits for infants,  your bones and heart . So, make sure to include omega 3 fatty acids-rich food items in your diet. Or, you can buy omega 3 supplements from the market. However, make sure to research well and consult a doctor before making a purchase.

References

▪    Nettleton JA, Brouwer IA, Geleijnse JM, Hornstra G. Saturated Fat Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease and Ischemic Stroke: A Science Update. Ann Nutr Metab. 2017;70(1):26-33. doi:10.1159/000455681. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5475232/).
▪    Kim KB, Nam YA, Kim HS, Hayes AW, Lee BM. α-Linolenic acid: nutraceutical, pharmacological and toxicological evaluation. Food Chem Toxicol. 2014 Aug;70:163-78. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2014.05.009. Epub 2014 May 21. PMID: 24859185. ( https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24859185/).
▪    Kaur N, Chugh V, Gupta AK. Essential fatty acids as functional components of foods- a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2014;51(10):2289-2303. doi:10.1007/s13197-012-0677-0. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4190204/).
▪    Swanson D, Block R, Mousa SA. Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life. Adv Nutr. 2012;3(1):1-7. doi:10.3945/an.111.000893. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3262608/).

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