Omega-3 fatty acids are a category of polyunsaturated fats that help maintain the cell membranes for every type of cell in your body. These fatty acids have been found to provide an impressive array of health benefits, from improving symptoms of existing disease (lowering triglycerides for example) to preventing the occurrence of future conditions (such as age-related macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease). They help your skin stay clear and beautiful, keep allergies and inflammation under control, reduce joint pain, alleviate symptoms of depression, help a growing baby’s brain develop…the list goes on and on.
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential, and we need them to function normally. These fatty acids (ALA,DHA,EPA) are not made by our body, so we need to get them from our diet.
Health Benefits Of Omega-3's
There is substantial evidence that supports taking recommended amounts of DHA and EPA through dietary fish or fish oil supplements to lower triglycerides (blood fat) reduce heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms, and strokes in people with known cardiovascular disease. It also slows the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques (hardening of the arteries), and lowers blood pressure slightly.However, in high doses (3 grams and above) it can have harmful effects, such as an increased risk of bleeding, so certain individuals may need to watch their dosages, particularly people taking anticoagulant drugs like Coumadin, Plavix, Effient, Brilinta, and some painkillers. Anyone taking these medications should talk to a doctor before using any omega-3 supplements.
The power of omega-3s was demonstrated in a recent study, that showed the regular use of fish oil or other potent source of omega-3 fatty acids, reduced breast cancer risk by 32%. For women who already have breast cancer, omega-3's will help shrink tumors and help keep them confined so that they do not spread. Flax seeds provide a significant source of omega-3 fatty acids, and lower the risk of breast cancer by improving inflammation and reducing the rate at which breast cells divide in response to estrogen.
Other Health Problems That Benefit From Reduced Inflammation
Asthma: Evidence suggests that a diet high in omega-3s reduces this form of inflammation.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: A number of studies have found that fish oil supplements significantly reduced stiffness and joint pain. Omega-3 supplements also seem to boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.
Lubricates Joints: Helps provide the lubrication joints need to function at an effective level, causing you to experience less grinding and less overall wear and tear - and thereby - less pain as you age.
Inflammatory reactions can be caused by psychological stress, so increased levels of omega-3 fats could be used to reduce this form of inflammation, which is a natural immune response necessary to protect and help heal the body. Systemic inflammation from stress, is behind many chronic illnesses ranging from arthritis to heart disease and cancer.
Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia:
Research suggests that omega-3's may help protect against Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Recent studies have also shown that the omega-3 supplement DHA can slow the decline seen in those suffering with Alzheimer's dementia or in age-associated memory impairment.
ADHD: Some studies show that fish oil can reduce the symptoms of ADHD in some children and improve their cognitive function.
Depression: Researchers have found that cultures who eat foods with high levels of omega-3s have lower levels of depression. Fish oil also seems to boost the effects of antidepressants.
Other Health Benefits
Prenatal Health: Studies show that EPA and DHA supplementation during pregnancy boost the health of pregnant women and the development of their children. DHA appears to be important for visual and neurological development in infants.
Daily Recommended Dosages of Omega-3's
It has been explained that dosages given to test subjects were equal to around four or five times the amount of fish oil you'd get from a daily serving of salmon, or the equivalent to 1,200 mg EPA/DHA from a fish oil supplement. The results showed a 20% reduction in anxiety compared to the placebo group. Blood samples taken from the medical students also showed a similar reduction in circulating inflammatory factors. However, I have also found that other experts recommend anywhere from 250 mg (the amount they recommended for maintaining general health and well-being), to 1 gram (1,000 mg) of DHA and EPA combined from fish oil daily, especially for those with heart disease. Some people with certain health conditions may take doses of up to 4 grams a day -- but only under a doctor's supervision.
Getting Omega-3's In Your Diet
Dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, flaxseeds, beans, fish, olive oil and winter squash contribute to part of the cornucopia of foods that will provide you with concentrated sources of omega-3 fats. Fish oil contains both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), while some nuts (English walnuts) and vegetable oils (canola, soybean, flaxseed/linseed, olive) contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Oily fish, such as mackerel, sardines, herring, trout, salmon and pilcahrds contain the most omega 3 fatty acids. Preparing your fish by poaching, baking or grilling it are the best choices. In addition, incorporating more beans, winter squash, and extra virgin olive oil to your meal plan is also very helpful and easy when following my recipes posted here on the website.
When it comes to increasing your omega-3 intake, all you have to do is to focus on bringing more omega-3 rich foods into your diet and possibly adding a supplement to your routine. Eating fish and seafood such as salmon, halibut, tuna and scallops a few times a week is an easy way to increase your totals. Also, eating more walnuts and flax seeds by adding them to salads, baked sweets or granola, is an easy way to incorporate them into your meal plan.
|Food||Serving||omega-3 fatty acids||% DV||Density||Quality|
|Flax seeds||0.25 cups||7.0 g||156.4||17.6||Excellent|
|Walnuts C||0.25 cup||2.3 g||50.4||6.3||Very good|
|Chinook salmon, baked/broiled||4.0 oz-wt||2.1 g||46.4||3.6||Very good|
|Scallops, baked/broiled||4.0 oz-wt||1.1 g||24.4||3.3||Good|
|Soybeans, cooked||1 cup||1.0 g||22.9||1.6||Good|
|Halibut, baked/broiled||4.0 oz-wt||0.6 g||13.8||1.8||Good|
|Shrimp, steamed, boiled||4.0 oz-wt||0.4 g||8.2||1.5||Good|
|Snapper, baked||4.0 oz-wt||0.4 g||8.0||1.1||Good|
|Tofu, raw||4.0 oz-wt||0.4 g||8.0||1.9||Good|
|Winter squash||1 cup||0.3 g||7.6||1.9||Good|
|Tuna, yellowfin||4.0 oz-wt||0.3 g||7.3||0.9||Fair|
|Cod, baked||4.0 oz-wt||0.3 g||7.1||1.2||Fair|
|Kidney beans||1 cup||0.3 g||6.7||0.6||Fair|