We’ve written about omega-3 fatty acids many times in the past, and for good reason. They are generally healthy in the right amounts, and we keep finding new ways they may be good for us. So, by understanding what they are, we can know how to add them to our diets and take full advantage of their health benefits.
To put it simply, omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that either the body does not not produce or only produces a small amount of naturally. This means we need to get them from external sources, like food and drinks. They’re also a form of polysaturated fats, which tend to be a healthier form of fat.
The biological reason behind their health benefits comes down to how they interact with our bodies’ cells. Omega-3 fatty acids have a key role in making up cell membranes in our bodies while also assisting with hormones that aid in blood clotting, artery function, and combatting inflammation. There’s also evidence that they influence the immune and endocrine systems.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s review how omega-3 fatty acids can benefit your health. As you can guess from the advantages we’ve written about before, the most well-researched benefit of omega-3 fatty acids deals with cardiovascular health. They’ve been found to reduce the risk of your triglycerides developing an arrythmia, while slowing the buildup of plaque in your arteries. Studies have also shown that omega-3s can reduce hyperlipidemia and hypertension. Additionally, they may even reduce rates of cardiovascular mortality and other forms of cardiovascular disease.
Of course, omega-3 fatty acids aren’t just good for your heart. Research has shown evidence of their benefits in a number of systems throughout the body. One interesting study found that it may help patients suffering with depression, and another revealed that low levels of omega-3 fatty acids were linked with accelerated brain aging. Recent research is even linking omega-3 fatty acids to optimal immune function. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can potentially protect against cancer, eye diseases, arthritis, and more.
One of the nice things about omega-3 fatty acids is there are many ways to consume a healthy amount. While you can take a supplement, the best way to get the health benefits is through natural dietary sources. Of all the sources of omega-3 fatty acids, fish are the most prevalent, especially fatty fish like salmon. In fact, fish are such good sources of this healthy nutrient that the American Heart Association suggests eating two servings of fish each week! Specifically, salmon, cod, sardines, mackerel, herring, canned light tuna, and lake trout are all reportedly the best sources for omega-3 fatty acids.
Certain nuts like pistachios and walnuts are also rich in omega-3s, and nutrient-fortified foods like eggs and milk are excellent sources too. Even some flours may be enriched to contain omega-3s.
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Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most researched and reported on nutrients in the last decade or more, and for good reason. The amazing thing is that much of the research has backed up their health benefits. So, try adding some to your diet and you’ll make a lasting commitment to your health!