Human bodies can make all the types of fats they require from other fats or raw materials. There is no such issue with omega-3 fats (also known as omega-3 fatty acids and n-3 fats). These fats cannot be manufactured by the body; rather, they must be derived from food. Fish, oily vegetables, nuts (especially walnuts), flaxseed oil, flax seeds, and leafy vegetables are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
What Makes Omega-3 Fats Special?
Cell receptors are controlled by this protein, which forms part of the membrane of every cell in the body. They produce hormones that regulate blood clotting, contractions and relaxations of artery walls, and inflammation. Other factors in the body are influenced by hormones. The omega-3 fats have also been linked to a number of health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Omega-3s can be divided into three main categories:
1. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
2. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – Often called marine omega-3s since they are derived from fish.
3. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
Most oil and nuts (especially walnuts) contain omega-3 fatty acids, as do flax seeds, flaxseed oil, leafy greens, and some animal fat from grass-fed animals. It is extremely limited how much of ALA can be converted into EPA or DHA by the human body.
- Omega-3: The Good Fat
Even though fatty foods can raise triglyceride and cholesterol levels, not all fats are bad for you. Cardiovascular disease, the nation’s leading killer, may be at risk due to omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, they may prevent depression, dementia, cancer, and arthritis. Among salmon, walnuts, and spinach, omega-3 fatty acids are found in higher concentrations.
- The Omega-3 Alphabet
Omega-3 fatty acids come in a variety of forms. Researchers have studied DHA and EPA, found in fish, most extensively and they appear to have the greatest health benefits. In addition to flaxseed, walnuts, and dark leafy vegetables such as spinach, another form of omega-3 fatty acid known as ALA is found in vegetable oils, flaxseed, and flaxseed oil.
How Omega-3 Fights Disease?
By reducing inflammation in blood vessels, joints, and other areas, omega-3 fatty acids are believed to protect the body from disease. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids reduce triglyceride levels in the bloodstream and reduce the risk of developing an abnormal heart rhythm. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids reduce blood vessel plaque buildup. Since our bodies cannot make omega-3 fatty acids, we need to consume them through foods or supplements.
Omega-3 and Heart Disease
Heart attacks are treated with prescription doses of omega-3 fatty acids to protect the heart. Omega-3s have been found to prevent heart attacks and heart disease deaths among heart disease survivors. Moreover, omega-3s may protect brain function in heart disease survivors. People with heart disease are recommended to consume one gram of EPA and DHA a day. The best way to consume fish is to eat it. However, your doctor may suggest taking a fish oil capsule instead.
Omega-3 and Arrhythmias
An abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmias) can be life-threatening and Omega-3s are believed to reduce the risk. Fish, walnuts, broccoli, and steamed green soybeans served in the pod (edamame) are common sources of omega-3s.
You can use omega-3 supplements if you do not like to eat fish. People with heart disease should consume one gram of omega-3 daily. Before starting, consult your doctor, as high doses may interfere with some medicines or cause bleeding. Fishy breath and taste are some of the side effects of fish oil supplements.
The amount of EPA, DHA, and ALA in supplements can vary widely, and that makes supplements of varying quality. Be sure to choose supplements containing a mixture of EPA and DHA of 650 mg a day, following international guidelines.
Due to the wide range of benefits omega-3 fatty acids provide, eating fish or another seafood one to two times per week is recommended, especially fatty fish rich in EPA and DHA. This is especially important for women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant as well as nursing mothers. A developing child needs DHA from the third trimester until the second year in order to form the brain and other parts of the nervous system. Women sometimes avoid eating fish out of concern that mercury and other contaminants could harm their children. But studies show that a lack of omega-3 fats can harm children, and a balance can be struck between benefits and risks.
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