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Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids Introduction

What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Studies indicate that the lack of Omega-3 fatty acid consumption could be linked to many health conditions.

Discussed in this article:

  • Omega-3 and Arthritis
  • Omega-3 and Weight Loss
  • Omega-3 and High Cholesterol
  • Omega-3 and High Blood Pressure
  • Omega-3 and Stroke
  • Omega-3 and Diabetes
  • Omega-3 and Depression
  • Omega-3 and Manic/Depression (Bipolar Disorder)
  • Omega-3 and Skin Disorders
  • Omega-3 and Asthma
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids
  • and more

Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids, which means that they are essential to human health but cannot be manufactured by the body. For this reason, omega-3 fatty acids must be obtained from food. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish and certain plant oils. It is important to maintain an appropriate balance of omega-3 and omega-6 (another essential fatty acid) in the diet as these two substances work together to promote health. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function as well as normal growth and development.

There are three major types of omega 3 fatty acids that are ingested in foods and used by the body: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Once eaten, the body converts ALA to EPA and DHA, the two types of omega-3 fatty acids more readily used by the body. Extensive research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and help prevent certain chronic diseases such as heart disease and arthritis. These essential fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be particularly important for cognitive and behavioral function. In fact, infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing vision and nerve problems.

As mentioned previously, it is very important to maintain a balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the diet. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and most omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. An inappropriate balance of these essential fatty acids contributes to the development of disease while a proper balance helps maintain and even improve health. A healthy diet should consist of roughly one to four times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. The typical American diet tends to contain 11 to 30 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids and many researchers believe this imbalance is a significant factor in the rising rate of inflammatory disorders in the United States.

In contrast, however, the Mediterranean diet consists of a healthier balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and many studies have shown that people who follow this diet are less likely to develop heart disease. The Mediterranean diet does not include much meat (which is high in omega-6 fatty acids) and emphasizes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids including whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, garlic, as well as moderate wine consumption.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Helpful in Treating a Variety of Conditions


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