What is Omega 3 Fatty Acids?
Omega 3 Fatty Acid is a type of fat which is an essential nutrient needed by the body to maintain optimal health. It is found in some animal and plant sources and has gained public attention due to its health benefits to prevent and/or improve many chronic diseases with inflammatory effects.
Why do we need it?
These fats are not produced by the body, and so it has to be included in the diet for the body’s use. Furthermore, studies have shown that our western diets include an excess of Omega 6 Fatty Acids which is found in corn, canola, soy, sunflower, and safflower oils. Scientists and nutritionists are recommending that there be a balance 1:1 ratio between our intake of omega 3 and omega 6. The omega 3 appears to have a protective factor to minimize the inflammatory damage that is caused by a diet high in omega 6.
During pregnancy, it is important for the woman to have adequate amounts or omega 3 Fatty acids in her diet not only for her health but also for the health of the developing fetus. Similarly, breastfeeding moms need this essential nutrient in their diet as the sucking baby gets the omega 3 fatty acids in the breast milk. Breastfeeding should be at least for the first 6 months of the baby’s life.
Here are conditions that can be helped by Omega 3:
o Coronary heart disease
o Crohn’s Disease/inflammatory condition of the intestines
o Breast, prostate, and colon cancers
o Osteoporosis/thinning of the bones
o Rheumatoid arthritis/autoimmune inflammation of the joints
o Lupus and nephropathy (autoimmune illnesses)
o Conditions which result in diminished brain function which affect memory and other functions e.g. Parkinson’s disease
Omega 3 is promoted for Wellness
Here are some of the health promoting benefits to prevent diseases:
- Promotes heart health
- Regulates cholesterol
- Maximizes a child’s learning
- Improves focus and concentration in children
- Preserves general brain function as we age
Foods rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids
The types of Omega 3 Fatty Acids are:
- Eicosapaentaenoic acid EPA
- Docosahexaenoic acid DHA
- Alpha-linoleic acid ALA
These essential fats are found in both animal and plant sources:
Marine animals (EPA and DHA) are more accessible and in the recommended concentration for dietary needs.
üKrill (shrimp-like marine animal). It is superior in its content and benefits with respect to omega 3 fatty acids
Plant Foods (ALA) is found in a few plants in low concentration. It is recommended to combine these with the EPA and DHA sources.
A Word of Caution
Alas, marine source foods are threatened by pollution from heavy metals namely mercury and pesticides. Whether freshly harvested or tinned, the problem of contamination is a cause for concern. Try to get the best quality of fish free from contaminants. The same applies to omega 3 fatty acids from plant sources.
There is a plethora of supplements on the market or sold over the Internet. Look for the well-known, trusted manufacturers who are known for the high quality of their products. They will indicate that the fish oil is purified to eliminate mercury, PCBs, and dioxin.
The Readers Bureau Contributor
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