What are they?
Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as omega-3 fats, are the one type of fat you want to bump up in your body. Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, and fish oil are rich sources of the omega-3 fats. Flaxseed, avocado, canola oil, and walnuts also are good dietary sources of omega-3 fats. Not only does your body need these fats to function. Omega-3 fats deliver some big health benefits.
How essential are omega-3 fats?
Omega-3 fats are special. They are part of the cell membrane in our body and influence the way the cell functions. The omega-3 fats provide the starting point for making hormones that control blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and reduce or prevent inflammation. They also regulate genetic information structure in the body. It is likely that due to these effects, omega-3 fats help prevent heart disease and stroke, may help control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis, and may also play protective roles in cancer and other conditions.
The human body can make most of the types of fats it needs from other fats or raw materials. That isn’t the case for omega-3 fats. These are essential fats—the body can’t make them from scratch but must get them from food. Foods high in Omega-3 include fatty fish, vegetable oils, nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds, flaxseed oil, avocado and leafy vegetables.
How omega-3 fats benefit your health?
Omega-3 fats possess anti-inflammatory, antiarrhythmic (control abnormal heart rhythms), and antithrombotic (reduce the formation of blood clots) properties. Fish and fish oil are rich sources of omega- 3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fats are used for treatment of many conditions. In the study of uses, effects, and modes of action of drugs, omega-3s are essential because they are not synthesized by the body and must be obtained through diet or taking of supplements.
- Blood fat – Fish oil supplements can lower elevated triglyceride levels. Having high levels of this blood fat puts you at risk for heart disease.
- Rheumatoid arthritis -Fish oil supplements can curb stiffness and joint pain. Omega-3 supplements also seem to boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Depression – Some researchers have found that eating foods with high levels of omega- 3s have lowered levels of depression. Fish oil also seems to boost the effects of antidepressants and may help the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder.
- Baby development – Certain forms of omega-3s appear to be important for visual and neurological development in infants.
American Heart Association recommendations for omega-3 fats
The American Heart Association recommends consumption of two servings of fish per week for persons with no history of coronary heart disease and at least one serving of fish daily for those with known coronary heart disease.
Triglycerides are the main constituents of natural fats and oils. High concentrations in the blood indicate an elevated risk of stroke. Hence, higher dosages of omega-3 fats are required to reduce elevated triglyceride levels and to reduce morning stiffness and the number of tender joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Modest decreases in blood pressure occur with significantly higher dosages of omega-3 fatty acids
Researchers have found that there are no significant drug interactions with omega-3 fatty acids.
The strongest evidence for a beneficial effect of omega-3 fats has to do with heart disease. These fats appear to help the heart beat at a steady clip and not veer into a dangerous or potentially fatal erratic rhythm. Such abnormal heartbeats cause most of the 500,000-plus cardiac deaths that occur each year in the United States. Omega-3 fats also help lower blood pressure and heart rate, improve blood vessel function, and, at higher doses, lower triglycerides and may ease inflammation, which plays a role in the development of atherosclerosis – a disease of the arteries characterized by the deposition of plaques of fatty material on their inner walls.
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