Omega-3 is a versatile fatty acid that is an essential component a healthy diet and lifestyle. Well-known for its role in elevating mood mood, omega 3 also supports healthy weight loss and maintains cardiovascular health.
Fatty acids are derived from animal and vegetable fats and oils. They are used as lubricants, in cooking, and in the production of soaps, detergents and cosmetics. But fatty acids play their most important roles within the human body, where they produce potentially major health benefits.
This article will discuss:
Although omega-3 is essential, the human body cannot produce it. Therefore, it is imperative to incorporates foods rich in omega-3 into the diet.
There are three major types of omega-3 fatty acids found in food that the body needs:
- Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) – for cardiovascular health
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – reduces inflammation
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – possible role in Alzheimer’s treatment
After ingestion, the body converts ALA into EPA and DHA, the two most useful types of omega-3 fatty acids.
Why are they helpful?
- Omega-3s are highly concentrated in the brain and are extremely important for brain function and memory.
- Infants who do not receive appropriate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy can be at a greater risk of developing vision and nerve problems.
- Research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and play a role in preventing heart disease, arthritis and even cancer.
Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids can result in fatigue, poor circulation, extreme changes in mood and memory, and even heart problems. Omega-3′s important relationship to heart health is widely accepted, but the fatty acid also has the potential to be an effective treatment for other conditions including:
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Pressure
- Weight Loss
- Eating Disorders
Face skin care experts like Perricone MD are particularly interested the use of omega-3 as a treatment for skin ailments, and have begun using them in their products. Some products even come with a Perricone discount. Clinical studies have shown that people who suffer from sun sensitivity or photoallergies showed more tolerance for sunlight after taking omega-3 supplements. Further studies indicate that people with psoriasis, an inflammatory skin disorder, also have improvement when taking omega-3. Additionally, many researchers believe that flaxseed, another source of omega-3 fatty acids, is helpful for treating acne.
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While fish, plant and nut oils are primary sources of omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed, canola, pumpkin seed, walnut and soybean oils are also particularly rich vegetarian sources of omega-3.
Cold-water fish are among the best sources of EPA and DHA. This includes fish such as:
For optimum health, it isn’t enough to eat sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. It is crucial to maintain the correct balance of omega-3 and another essential fatty acid, omega-6, because these two substances work together. As with its partner omega-3, the body can’t produce omega-6 fatty acids. However, they can be easily incorporated into the diet through eggs, poultry, and certain fruits, nuts and oils. The American Heart Association recommends that at least 10% of a person’s daily caloric intake come from omega-6 fatty acids. Although proposed daily servings of omega-6 depend on a person’s level of physical activity, age, and gender, the appropriate range is between 12 and 22 grams per day.
Why is maintaining the correct balance between omega-3 and omega-6 important? While omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of the anti-inflammatory diet, which is vital to skin care, most omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation. Since few individuals have an omega-6 deficiency, it is rarely necessary to supplement your diet with them.
Experts believe it is much more important to supplement the diet with omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and prevent heart disease. To keep inflammatory problems to a minimum, diets should consist of only twice as much omega-6 as omega-3. However, studies have shown that the average American diet contains up to 25 times more omega-6 than omega-3, which contributes to the rise of inflammatory problems.