Essential to Health: Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Essential to Health: Omega 3 Fatty Acids

During the past few years there has been an ongoing campaign in favour of Omega 3’s and their benefits. This article attempts to clarify the extent of their effects on our health according to current scientific research.
Over the years, fats have received a terrible reputation for contributing to the Standard American Diet’s (appropriately termed “SAD”), as well as for playing a role in the development of weight issues, the increase of chronic diseases and inhibiting the overall healthy functioning of our bodies. While certain fats, such as trans and saturated fats found in packaged, processed foods and fast foods, are known to negatively affect our health; not all fats are bad. Fats are absolutely necessary for a multitude of processes throughout the body and are required in order to have fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K perform their functions; such as building strong bones and teeth, moisturising mucous membranes, and providing antioxidant protection to cells and tissues.

When it comes to discussing the benefits of the “good fats”, an increasing amount of attention is rightly being placed on the immense benefits from Omega 3 fatty acids. If you’re unfamiliar with the Omega 3’s, here’s a brief overview of key facts you need to know:

• Omega 3’s are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids, classified as “essential fatty acids” that have to be obtained through food sources because the body is unable to manufacture them naturally.

• There are 3 types of Omega 3’s: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found in plant sources such as nuts, seeds, and oils, while EPA and DHA are contained in fatty fish and eggs.

• Its recommended to consume Omega-rich foods and oils multiple times throughout the week. Simple substitutions in almost any recipe can allow for Omega-rich oils to be consumed regularly with little effort.

Omega 3’s amazing properties have drawn the attention of the medical community worldwide, giving medical professionals and patients hope that this one dietary element may be a key to preventing and curing some of the most dangerous degenerative diseases that plague our current generations. Omega 3 assist the body in countless functions, such as reducing the incidence of stroke, unhealthy cholesterol levels and other cardiovascular diseases, catastrophic oxidative cellular changes; and diminishing the frequency of cognitive disorders and degenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Moreover, scientific studies are have been conducted on specific illnesses, finding encouraging results towards the cure of depression and anxiety, developmental disabilities such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), inflammatory conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), and even towards the prevention of early and preterm deliveries. While many of the studies available show the need for further research, the acceptance of this fatty acid for improving health is being reinforced by medical and holistic health communities around the globe with every passing year.

However, this research is not new: As early as 1992, medical researchers were delving into the benefits of DHA for babies’ health. In a peer-reviewed scientific study, it was shown that when DHA was provided to infants of 9 months of age, an improvement in the body’s natural processes to combat degenerative visual conditions that adversely affected the retina of the eye was observed. In addition to improved eye health, these infants also exhibited improved problem-solving skills (1). Furthermore, these fatty acids have been shown to improve overall systematic functioning in children, teens, adults, and elderly populations by lowering cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride levels, improving the elasticity of blood vessels and reducing the incidence of fat deposits in arteries.

Another study tracking subjects over a period of ten years claims to have found positive correlations between a daily supplementation of just 664 mg of fish oil to an average 40% reduction in cardiovascular disease and a “significant reduction in all-cause mortality” (2). While these two examples are just a small sample of the attempted research into the benefits of Omega 3’s fish oil supplementation, the results have shown promise enough that continued research is being conducted by countless scientists and facilities worldwide.

Implementing a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and oils that provide essential vitamins and minerals, the body is able to function as intended: fighting infection, preventing disease, and supporting the systems that enable cognitive processes, metabolic functioning, muscular strength and overall physical endurance. The addition of Omega 3 rich foods and supplementation* may have a resounding impact not only on daily functions, but also on the length of life and the quality of those extended years. The benefits include preventions, cures, and alleviations in the conditions, diseases, and deadly illnesses that modern medicine, alone, simply can’t combat.

*Note that there are Omega 3 supplements that can be used to increase the daily intake or when natural food sources are not so readily available. These are our top picks:

1. Hellenia 100% Antarctic Krill Oil Capsules

2. Udos Choice Ultimate Oil Blend: Plant based Omega 3’s to add to your salads and dressings.

And don’t forget to check out our nutrition section for Omega 3 rich recipes!

References:

(1). Dolecek, T.A. “Epidemiological evidence of relationships between dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and mortality in the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial.” PSEBM. 200:177-182, 1992.

(2). Lands, William E.M. (December 2005). “Dietary fat and health: the evidence and the politics of prevention: careful use of dietary fats can improve life and prevent disease.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1055: 179-192. Blackwell. doi:10.1196/annals.1323.028. PMID 16387724.

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