Why Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids So Important?
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential “good” fats that are vital for your overall health! Because your body cannot produce Omega 3s, you must get them from the foods you eat. Foods high in Omega-3 fats include fish, nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds, flaxseed oil, and leafy vegetables.
Not only does your body need these healthy fats to function, but also they deliver some big health benefits.
How Omega-3s Help Your Health!
Having high levels of this blood fat puts you at risk for heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce triglyceride levels thus reducing the risk of heart disease.
Omega-3s have been found to curb stiffness and joint pain in those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Omega-3 supplements also seem to boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.
Research has linked Omega-3 fatty acids to lower levels of depression and improving the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder. They may also have a therapeutic effect on postpartum depression.
Omega-3s appear to be important for visual and neurological development in infants.
A diet high in Omega-3s lowers inflammation, a key component in asthma.
Although more research is still needed in this area, studies show that Omega-3s can reduce the symptoms of ADHD in some children and improve their mental skills, like thinking, remembering, and learning. They are linked to improved brain function and attention.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to be effective in treating children with autism.
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
While not conclusive, some research suggests that Omega-3s may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and have a positive effect on gradual memory loss linked to aging.
Where to get Omega-3s
When possible, try to get Omega-3 fatty acids from foods rather than supplements.
Walnuts, flaxseed and flaxseed oil are great sources, and you should aim to eat fish two to three times a week. Choose from the following:
Salmon (wild has more Omega-3s than farmed)
Some fish have higher levels of mercury, PCBs, or other toxins and may need to be limited or avoided, especially for young children or if you are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or nursing. These include mackerel, wild swordfish, tile fish, shark and certain types of tuna.
Limit farm-raised fish of any type as it may also have higher levels of contaminants. Children and pregnant women should avoid these fish entirely. Fish like wild trout and wild salmon are safer.
Should You Supplement?
Fish oil supplements are available, and algae oil may be a good option for people who don’t eat fish. However, talk to your doctor about taking a supplement first. He or she may have specific recommendations, or warnings, depending on your health and any medications you may be taking. Your doctor will also recommend the right dose.