When it comes to health and good heart, one definitely takes the name of omega-3 fatty acid. There have been promoting ads on television that it is good for health. But what is Omega-3 Fatty acid? Where do we find it? and what are the potential benefits of omega-3? This article is solely based to give a brief answer to these questions.
These are the one of the essential fatty acid. Our body can’t synthesize it and we have to take it from diet. As per World Health Organization recommendation, an omega-3 fatty acid intake should be of 1–2% of energy and there is another fatty acid, an omega-6 fatty acid which is recommended an intake of 5–8% of energy. This article is purely about omega-3 fatty acids.
Forms of Omega-3 Fatty Acid:
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) : These have highest benefits and they mainly are found in fishes.
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): This is utilized for energy by our body and is found in vegetable oils and nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds and their oil, vegetables (like spinach). Our human body can covert some ALA into EPA and DHA but this conversion is limited.
Oily fishes are the best sources but for the people who don’t eat fish, DHA can be taken from commercially grown algae supplements. Wild ones may be toxic. ALA can be taken from foods such as flaxseed, canola oil, walnuts and spinach, edmame (green soyabeans)
How Can omega-3 Help You?
- In Cardiac problems: If you have a heart problem, eating oily fish or taking fish oil capsules are best. Omega -3s help in maintaining your Heart’s Rhythm. They can lower heart rate and help prevent arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms).
- Cutting Triglycerides: DHA and EPA can lower your triglycerides and can help your cholesterol problems.
- Prevent Stroke: They curb plaque buildup inside blood vessels, helping with blood flow. So they can help in preventing stroke caused by clots or a blocked artery.
- Lowering High Blood Pressure: Studies have shown that Omega-3s can help lower blood pressure. One can replace the regular meat diet with fish.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Studies have shown that fish oil (3g/d) can curb joint pain and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis. It reduces the inflammatory mediators of R.A.
- Depression : Depression is found rare in cultures who take omega-3 rich diet. It can also be helpful in bipolar disorder.
- ADHD: Omega-3 (especially D.H.A.) are the building blocks of a child’s brain. The omega-3 levels are found insufficient in individuals with ADHD. So, omega-3 along with omega-6 gamma lipolenic acid (found in borage oil) improves behaviour and symptoms of ADHD.
- Dementia: There’s some evidence that omega-3s may help protect against dementia and age-related mental decline. According to adequate fish servings to raise DHA levels and adequate amounts of vitamins B6, B12, and folate intake (to decrease homocystine levels) could decrease the incidence of dementia.
- Pregnancy and Infants: Omega-3 (D.H.A and E.P.A) is important for neurological and visual development of the baby. It is recommended during pregnancy. There occurs a deficiency of omega-3 during pregnancy in a woman due to the fact that fetus utilizes it for its brain development. But mercury containing fish should be avoided in pregnant women and in children(as per U.S.F.D.A. Recommendation). D.H.A. is considered important for the development of brain during the first two years of life. It is naturally found in breast milk. Now, it is available in infant formulas and some baby food products.