Omega-3 Fatty Acids:Your Heath
Naturally occurring in many foods, Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce your risk of heart disease, fight anxiety, reinforce health in pregnancy, boost early childhood development and more. Now Omega-3s are being added to many popular foods. This makes it more convenient to include them in your healthy diet.
Medical science has identified 3 different types of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, EPA and DHA, each of which offers different benefits.
Omega-3s are understood to be beneficial in these, among other ways:
Eye Health - DHA is a major component of the retina of the eye, and may help prevent macular degeneration, a common cause of impaired vision and blindness.
Brain development in pregnancy and early infancy - studies show that babies whose mothers consumed higher levels of DHA have longer attention spans. And there's evidence that DHA-fortified formula can aid in the brain development of infants.
ADHD in Children - Study evidence suggests benefits including better task organization and longer attention span in children 8 to 12 years old with ADHD who consumed more Omega-3s.
Depression and Anxiety - Lower levels of DHA and EPA in the blood stream and brain are associated with neuro inflammation. Work with depressed patients indicates that fish oil rich in EPA has considerable benefit.
May Improve Sleep - Low levels of Omega-3s fatty acids are associated with obstructive sleep apnea in adults and various sleep problems in children. There is some indication that lower levels of DHA are associated with lower melatonin levels in adults.
Menstrual Pain - Studies indicate that women who consume more Omega-3s experience milder menstrual pain.
Reduce Fat in The Liver - Omega-3s are associated with reduced fatty deposits in the liver as assessed via ultrasound.
Autoimmune Disease - Omega-3s have been shown to be beneficial in treating lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease and psoriasis.
Metabolic Syndrome - Omega-3s help reduce inflammation, insulin resistance, hypertension and more.
Heart Disease - Studies show that Omega-3s can help improve risk factors for Heart Disease, including:
- Reduce Triglycerides
- Control high blood pressure
- Raise HDL-cholesterol
- Prevent blood clots
- Control arterial plaque
- Fight inflammation
Omega-3s in your diet
The American Heart Association recommends that people eat at least two 3.5 ounce servings per week of fatty fish. Fish rated high in omega-3 fatty acids include albacore tuna, salmon, herring, lake trout, mackerel, and sardines.
Omega-3s are found in many cooking oils, including:
- Canola oil
- Cod liver oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Mustard oil
- Soybean oil
- Walnut oil
Leafy green vegetables are a source of ALA:
- Brussels sprouts
Omega-3s are added to many foods, among them:
- Soy milk
- Peanut butter
- Pumpkin seeds
- Packaged pizza
- Flour tortillas
Because of the beneficial effects on infants, Omega-3s are also added to baby foods, including:
- Baby cereals
- Infant formula
- Baby foods sold in jars
There are many dietary supplements that include Omega-3s:
- Fish oil capsules
- Vitamins for children and adults
- Protein and energy bars
- Protein powders
- Weight loss shakes
Although it's difficult to overuse Omega-3s in a regular diet, it is possible to cause yourself bleeding problems by taking too much in capsule or supplement form. Be sure and talk with your doctor before you add high-dose supplements, to make sure you're staying within healthy limits.