At this point, most of us are aware of the dangers of saturated fats and the encouragement to avoid them. In contrast, “healthy fats” (polyunsaturated and unsaturated) are brilliant in their role of supporting various aspects of our health. Another name for “healthy fats” is omega-3 fatty acids.
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) are both omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel. ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid) is a plant-based omega-3 found in flaxseeds, chia seeds, algal supplements, etc.
Let’s dive into our list of 6 important benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, guaranteed to convince you to incorporate them into your diet immediately.
Your body can’t produce the amount of omega-3s we require to survive. Therefore, we need to concentrate on attaining the appropriate levels of healthy fatty acids from food sources or the best omega-3 supplements we can find.
The primary area of research into omega-3 is related to cardiovascular health. Omega-3s are known to keep your heart healthy and protect against heart disease.
This is due to the ability of omega-3s to lower triglyceride levels, your blood pressure, the risk of developing blood clots, slowing the build-up of “bad” cholesterol, and the raising of “good” cholesterol (HDL) in your arteries.
All of these factors work together to lower one’s risk of experiencing a heart attack and improve the potentially severe outcomes of said heart attack.
Omega-3s work throughout the body but are highly concentrated, particularly in one’s brain and eyes.
When we lack omega-3, we may experience difficulties in cognitive function and development. As we age, our short-term memory, executive function, and perceptual speed diminish. This is where fatty acids swoop in to save the day!
Ingesting omega-3s can help preserve our brain function as we grow older. Omega-3s protect our brain cells against oxidative stress and improve blood circulation to our brains. Thus, improving our learning, memory, and cognitive well-being.
Amazingly, omega-3 supplementation is understood to be highly beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients, specifically at the onset or early stages of the disease’s progression.
One of the leading causes of permanent eye damage and blindness worldwide is age-related macular degeneration.
Interestingly enough, DHA is a major component of the structural makeup of one’s retina in the eye. Vision problems are very likely to arise if we lack omega-3s.
Increased consumption of healthy fats can drastically reduce one’s risk of developing eye issues over time.
Pregnant people are also encouraged to monitor their levels of omega-3. Higher levels of omega-3 during pregnancy have been linked to better visual acuity, improved cognitive function, better communication and social skills, and fewer behavioral problems in infants.
Meliorated Mental Health
Omega-3 fatty acids rank high on our list of the top foods to combat anxiety, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and depression.
Both high and low doses of omega-3 supplementation have been effective in the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), post-partum depression, and anxiety. These fatty acids are believed to alter certain emotional regulatory pathways in the brain, as well as those potentially involved in the development of certain psychiatric disorders such as various mood disorders and schizophrenia.
Scientists are also currently testing the correlation between omega-3s and the improvement of difficulties involved in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Findings show that omega-3 could improve inattention and task completion, and additionally decrease impulsivity, restlessness, and aggression.
We’ve all experienced inflammation, our bodies’ natural response to infections and damage. However, persistent (or chronic) inflammation without an injury or infection can lead to detrimental physical health issues such as cancer, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Some various molecules and substances are linked to inflammation (e.g. c-reactive protein, and inflammatory eicosanoids and cytokines).
Omega-3 fatty acids are seen to reduce the production of these markers. This leads to an overall lessened risk of the above-mentioned health issues, including breast, colon, and prostate cancer.
Bones, Joints, And Pain Relief
Omega-3s are also a fantastic pain reliever when built up in the body. This includes but is not limited to, chronic pain, joint pain, and menstrual pain.
Their anti-inflammatory properties, and ability to decrease the production of pro-inflammatory proteins within the body, significantly reduce joint pain (especially in synovial joints) and stiffness for individuals who suffer from both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Omega-3s also boost the amount of calcium in our bones, resulting in better overall bone health.