Natural wonders – Omega-3 fatty acids

Want a healthy heart or even a better mood? Then including Omega-3s in your diet is the way to go!

Natural wonders – Omega-3 fatty acids

What you need to know about omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids vital for human health. However, the body can’t make these fatty acids and you have to source them from food. Omega-3 is found in a range of natural foods; in addition to supplements that are now easily available. Falling under the category of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in brain function as well as normal growth and development.

Health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids:

Increases “good” cholesterol: Those who consume Omega-3 fatty acids are known to have higher levels of HDL “good” cholesterol and decreased triglycerides (fats in the blood).

Reduces blood pressure: Research suggests that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can lower blood pressure significantly in those suffering from hypertension.

Reduces risk of heart disease: A good way to prevent or treat heart disease is to eat a low-fat diet, replacing foods rich in saturated and trans-fat with those rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 fatty acids). Intake of omega-3 fatty acids (primarily from fish) helps protect against stroke caused by plaque build-up and blood clots in the arteries that lead to the brain.

Keeps diabetes under check: Those suffering from diabetes have high triglyceride (fats in the blood) and low levels of HDL. Since omega-3 reduces triglycerides and increases HDL, diabetic patients benefit from eating food rich in this essential fatty acid.

Brings relief to arthritis patients: Omega-3 intake helps reduce tenderness in joints and decreases morning stiffness, providing relief to patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Improves bone strength: According to studies, including omega-3 in your diet may help increase levels of calcium in the body and improve bone strength, benefitting those with osteoporosis.

Excellent for glowing skin: The polyunsaturated fats found in fish oil help to replenish the fats lost in skin causing dry and flaky skin. Skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis are also improved by Omega-3s.

Mood enhancer: Omega-3 is known to be a great mood enhancer. If you find yourself feeling blue very often, check to see if you’re getting enough omega-3.

Reduces chances of depression and psychotic disorders: These fatty acids are an important component of nerve membranes and help nerve cells communicate with each other. Those who don’t get adequate omega-3 fatty acids, or maintain a healthy balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids may be at an increased risk of depression.

Treating burns: These essential fatty acids have been used to reduce inflammation and promote wound healing in burn victims.

Improves lung function: Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acid supplements help decrease inflammation and improve lung function in adults with asthma.

Anti-cancer effects: Several studies report possible anti-cancer effects of omega-3 fatty acids (particularly, breast, colon, and prostate cancer). Some studies indicate reduced prostate tumour growth and increased survival with intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

Natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids:

Nut oils, plants and fish oil top the list of natural sources for Omega 3s. These are mainly found in marine micro-algae, which are consumed by fish. Among the fish easily available in India, Mackerel, Sardines and Tuna are some of the recommendations. It is also found in flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts, walnut oil, canola (rapeseed) oil, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil, soybeans, soybean oil, purslane and perilla seed oil. In addition, omega-3 supplements too are easily available.

Caution:

Excessive use of these supplements can lead to various hazards like increased cardiac risk, excessive bleeding and even increased risk of cancer. It can also lead to bloating, cause gas, diarrhoea or belching.

So check with your doctor for the right dosage.