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Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids for your Health

Omega-3 fatty acids are finally getting the respect they deserve. After decades of being lumped in with other fats as unhealthy, the experts are now promoting a diet rich in omega-3 to promote overall vitality and to help to overcome a growing list of illnesses. In this article, we’ll discover the how, what and why of omega-3 fatty acids to allow you to maximally benefit from this good oil.

 

An Omega-3 Primer

Polyunsaturated fats are unique because they contain Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s). EFA’s are the fatty acids that your body cannot produce and that must be provided through the diet. The two main EFA’s are . . .

  • Omega 3
  • Omega 6

The modern Western diet provides these two essential fats at the startling ratio of 20:1 in favor of Omega 6. That means that most people are chronically short of Omega 3 fatty acids.

The reason?

Omega 6 is contained in refined grains as well as in animals feed grains. The emphasis on wheat products and animal meats that has characterized our eating pattern over the last hundred years has done a good job of giving us our Omega 6, but an absolutely lousy job when it comes to Omega 3.

This imbalance has, of itself, caused some major problems. It has caused us to be far more prone to inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases that never used to affect humans. Getting more Omega 3 fatty acids into your body will revolutionize the way your body looks, feels and acts.

The omega-3 fatty acid family includes alpha-linolenic acid 

(LNA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-3 fatty acids are converted into hormonelike substances called “eicosanoids,” which can have a profound influence on your health.

By adding a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acid to your diet you will giving yourself a massive health advantage. By eating a fatty fish like salmon two to three time per week, you will be balancing out your EFS ratio and using good fat to burn off the bad fat.

Other good sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are . . .

  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Rainbow trout
  • Albacore tuna
  • Flaxseeds
  • Walnuts
  • Fish Oil
  • Krill Oil
  • Flaxseed Oil

 

Health Benefits

Weight Loss

Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to assist in fat loss in three ways; increasing satiety, enhancing body fat burning, improving insulin sensitivity. Let’s consider each of these areas.

They help you to feel fuller for longer. A 2010 study tested the satiety levels after meals that included healthy fats (as condiments) and those that did not. Neural testing of satiety levels showed that those who consumed healthy fats were fuller for longer. In addition, the total number of calories consumed per meal was lower.[source]

Researchers believe the enhanced satiety levels are due to the balancing of blood sugar levels that omega-3 fatty acids bring about.

They help burn body fat. A 2013 study focused on the fat reducing ability of the Hass Avocado, which is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Avocado was the only difference between the diets of two groups over a 12-week period. Both groups exercised moderately under supervision. At the end of the study, the avocado group had lost an average of 4.3 pounds, compared to the control group at just 1.4 pounds. [source]

They improve insulin sensitivity while speeding up the metabolism. A 2009 randomized, controlled study tested the effects of adding walnuts and fatty fish to the diet of obese men. At the end of a 12-week trial, the group with the added healthy fats exhibited higher metabolic rates in the 12 hours after taking in the fats. Their recorded insulin levels also dropped after each meal. [source] The ability of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce insulin levels, increases the body’s ability to convert fat into energy.

 

Heart Health

The American Heart Association have stated that daily consumption of fish oil is beneficial for patients suffering from coronary heart disease. Similarly, the US National Institute of Health recommends daily consumption of fish oil as a preventative for cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

Researchers believe that the incredibly low levels of heart disease among the Japanese people compared to those in the United States is explained by their high fish diet. A 2008 study out of the University of Pittsburgh, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, compared blood levels of omega-3 with amounts of cholesterol buildup in arteries for Japanese, white American and Japanese American men.[source]

The men in the study were between the ages of 40 and 49. It was found that Japanese men had the smallest amount of cholesterol buildup in their arteries and twice as much omega-3 fatty acids in their blood serum compared to both the white Americans and the Japanese Americans. The researchers concluded that high levels of omega-3 fatty acids significantly increase the build-up of cholesterol in the arteries.

 

Reduced Blood Pressure

Blood clots form when our normal blood flow is restricted by a blockage of blood vessels by plaque. This plaque may fats and platelets. Omega-3 fatty acids help to prevent the build-up and blockage of blood vessels by the plaque.

A study out of Lok Nayak Hospital, New Delhi had one hundred patients with high blood pressure being given low doses of omega-3 fatty acids, along with a reduced omega-6 fatty acid diet. The results showed a significant reduction in fasting plasma insulin levels, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, serum cholesterol, triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein.[source]

 

Boosts Brain Power

Approximately 60 percent of the brain is made up of fats. These fats, known as lipids, influence the structure and functioning of the brain. A constant supply of oxygen is vital to ensure optimal neural functioning. An intricate network of capillaries and blood vessels are used to bring oxygen to the brain.

The transmission of messages along the nerves in the brain relies on a fatty insulating myelin sheath around the extended regions of the nerve cells. Essential fatty acids are needed to produce these parts of the brain and that fat has to come from the diet.

Research has been conducted on the ability of an omega-3 fatty acid enhanced diet to help sufferers of depression, attention deficit hypersensitivity disorder (ADHD) and dementia related conditions. They have consistently shown that the EPA and DHA derived from omega-3 fatty acids is vital for communication between brain cells and the preservation of brain cell health. When these areas are enhanced, the symptoms related to depression, ADHD and dementia are decreased.[source]

A 2016 meta-analysis of studies on the effects of omega-3 supplementation for depression found that the beneficial effects of taking omega-3 were comparable to those of anti-depressant medications. It was noted, however, that the best results were obtained by a combination of omega-3 and prescribed medication. Also, fish oil that contained enhanced doses of EPA achieved the best results in terms of alleviating depressive symptoms.[source]

Researchers are not entirely sure how omega-3 helps relieve depression, but they believe that it has an effect on the serotonin receptors in the brain. In addition, omega-3 has anti-inflammatory effects that could also be beneficial to relieve depressive symptoms.

A 2012 study, which was published in the journal Neurology, showed that a low level of DHA in the blood correlates to smaller brain size, which is an indication of accelerated brain aging.[source]

 

Anti- Inflammatory 

Inflammation in cells and organs within the body is a major problem, that is largely caused by the Standard Western Diet. Virtually every major disease has some form of inflammation at its root cause. Omega-3 fatty acids form a vital part of an anti-inflammatory diet.

A couple of recent studies have shown that daily omega-3 supplementation may reduce inflammation resulting from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Another study showed that supplementation with the omega-3 rich New Zealand Green Lipped mussel had anti-inflammatory effects that were similar to taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Of course, supplementing with omega-3 has none of the side effects associated with such drugs.[9]

 

Conclusion

Getting into the omega-3 fatty acid habit is one of the best things you can do for your long-term health. The following table lists the recommended daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids in grams by age. The easiest way to meet this requirement is by daily supplementation.

 

Table 1: Adequate Intakes (AIs) for Omega-3s

Age

Male

Female

Pregnancy

Lactation

Birth to 6 months*

0.5 g

0.5 g

 

 

7–12 months*

0.5 g

0.5 g

 

 

1–3 years**

0.7 g

0.7 g

 

 

4–8 years**

0.9 g

0.9 g

 

 

9–13 years**

1.2 g

1.0 g

 

 

14–18 years**

1.6 g

1.1 g

1.4 g

1.3 g

19-50 years**

1.6 g

1.1 g

1.4 g

1.3 g

51+ years**

1.6 g

1.1 g

 

 

 

Source: Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary reference intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein, and amino acids (macronutrients). Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2005.

 

Learn More About Other Healthy Ingredients in Our Nut Butters or Read Our Ultimate Guide to Nuts.



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