Benefits of Omega – 3 Fatty Acids
There has been a lot of discussion about the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids. What makes these fatty acids so powerful when it comes to improving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle? There are three main types of omega 3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). EPA and DHA are essential fatty acids, which means we must consume them in our diet to meet our nutrient needs. EPA and DHA are naturally found in fish such as salmon, tuna and anchovies. ALA is found in high concentrations in seeds such as chia, flax, hemp and walnuts. Some ALA is converted to DHA and EPA in the body.
Now that we know where to find omega 3’s; let’s discuss the health benefits to they have to offer. First of all, DHA and EPA have been shown to improve cholesterol levels and lowering risk of coronary heart disease. In addition, they may also help lower triglycerides and reduce the risk of heart attack. Although, consuming foods with omega 3 fatty acids can be beneficial, taking supplements may also help. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, taking an omega 3 supplement can reduce sudden death by 45% with individuals with heart disease. Omega 3’s are not only beneficial for heart health, they can also improve brain health and improve eye health as well. EPA and DHA can work together to reduce the risk of age related eye diseases like macular degeneration. The recommended intake of EPA and DHA is 300 – 500mg a day. This can be achieved by consuming 2 servings of fatty fish a week.
Additional ways to incorporate omega 3’s into your diet are listed below:
- Add walnuts or ground flaxseed to cereals, yogurt and salads. Whole flaxseeds will not work as well — they simply pass through the body undigested.
- Substitute ground flaxseed for butter or oil when baking. Use 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed instead of 1 tablespoon of oil.
- Nibble on an omega 3 fatty acid-rich snack such as edamame or steamed soybeans, which are sold fresh or frozen.