OMEGA 3 - Health Benefits of Nutrition
Omega 3 is an essential nutrient that helps in the proper functioning of various organs in the body, including the heart, brain, and eyes. When the organs of the body function normally, people can live their lives to the fullest. Omega 3 fatty acids are important since our body is unable to produce them and must obtain them from external nutrition sources, such as eating foods containing omega 3 fatty acids or taking supplements.
What is omega 3?
Omega 3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) with abundant health benefits. Omega 3 is an essential nutrient crucial for the proper function of the brain, cardiovascular system, and growth development system. Omega 3 lowers blood pressure, reduces triglycerides in the blood, helps reduce joint inflammation in rheumatoid disease, helps nourish brain and eyes functions, helps prevent and alleviate dementia, depression, asthma, migraine, and diabetes, and helps reduce the risk and preventing heart disease and ischemic stroke. Omega 3 is rich in foods such as marine fish, walnuts, soybeans, and seeds such as flax seed oil and canola oil.
What are fatty acids?
Fatty acids are molecules consisting of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms. Carbon atoms form their linear backbones, with oxygen and hydrogen atoms latching onto the carbon backbone by chemical bonding with carbon atoms. There are two types of fatty acids:
- Saturated fats are held as bad or unhealthy fats since they raise the risk of developing diseases like heart disease and stroke.
- Unsaturated fats are further classified as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, depending on the number of unsaturated double bonds in the carbon backbone. Unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) are good or healthy fats. Consumed in appropriate portions, they promote a healthy heart.
Omega 3s are polyunsaturated fats with more nutritional benefits than saturated fat.
How do omega 3 fatty acids function?
Omega 3 fatty acids aid in the proper functioning of all cells in the body. Omega 3 are vital components of your cell membranes, providing structure and supporting numerous cellular interactions. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for all bodily cells, highly concentrated in our eyes and brain cells.
In addition, omega 3 provides the body with energy (calories) and supports health in numerous systems, including cardiovascular and endocrine.
How many types of omegas 3 fatty acids are there?
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that we have to consume through food sources. There are three types of omega 3 fatty acids:
- EPA (Eicosatetraenoic Acid) is a marine omega 3 found in fish. EPA fatty acids aid in lowering blood triglyceride levels, preventing clogging of blood vessels and platelet aggregation, which are all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. In addition, it helps relieve osteoarthritis as well as rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
- DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) is a marine omega 3 found in fish. DHA fatty acids play a vital role in brain and eye development and help to strengthen and prevent deterioration of the brain, learning, and memory, as well as the visual system working efficiently. It is essential for the cardiovascular system as well.
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is a plant source of omega 3 fatty acid. The body can convert a small amount of dietary ALA into EPA and DHA. However, this process yields a minuscule amount of EPA and DHA, insufficient to meet daily needs. Therefore, dietary sources of EPA and DHA, such as fish, are essential.
What are the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids?
Omega 3 fatty acids are unsaturated fatty acids that help to reduce inflammation, which can damage blood vessels throughout the body, leading to heart disease and strokes. Omega 3 fatty acids may benefit heart health, and many other illnesses include:
- Prevent cardiovascular disease and ischemic strokes: Several studies have found the health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids concerning cardiovascular disease and inhibition of platelet aggregation. Consuming omega 3 fatty acids (EPA+DHA) at 850 mg/day in combination with natural vitamin E at 300 mg/day or fish and seafood containing omega 3 has been shown to reduce the risk of strokes and heart failure, reducing irregular heartbeats, including preventing heart disease, reduce triglyceride levels, lowering blood pressure, lowering blood clotting, reducing myocardial ischemia mortality and sudden cardiac arrest. Recent research showed that people who ate fish twice a week (240 grams) had a lower risk of heart disease than those who rarely ate fish.
- Prevent coronary artery disease: CAD): Omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil are the precursors of the eicosanoids (Eicosanoids), including prostaglandin-3 (Prostaglandins-3) and thromboxane-3 (Thromboxan-3), which may help inhibit platelet adhesion. As a result, it prevents blood vessel clogging and promotes blood vessel dilatation, which improves blood circulation and reduces irregular heartbeat.
- Lower blood pressure: Omega 3 fatty acids aid in blood vessel dilation and improve blood flow by preventing blood vessel clogging, lowering blood pressure. In people without hypertension, fish oil does not further lower blood pressure.
- Relieve rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis causes swelling, stiffness, pain, and loss of joint function. According to some medical studies, taking omega 3 fatty acids with rheumatoid arthritis medications and other treatments can improve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
- Improve brain cell function and prevent Alzheimer's disease: Omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil nourish the brain, improve memory, and prevent dementia or Alzheimer's disease. DHA fatty acids in fish oil are essential for the brain to help reduce the formation of plaques (fibers or fibrils) in the brain, which are responsible for memory loss.
- Help prevent macular degeneration: Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness. According to research, people who consume a high-omega 3 diet are less likely to develop macular degeneration. However, omega 3 does not appear to improve symptoms or delay blindness.
- Help control blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes: The most common type of diabetes is type 2 diabetes, often in obese adults. EPA fatty acids in fish oil can improve blood sugar control.
- Relieve migraine pain: Omega 3 contains EPA fatty acids, which influence prostaglandin conversion and inhibit serotonin secretion. Platelet adhesion decreases during constriction of blood vessels in the brain. As a result, it may aid in the reduction of migraine symptoms.
- Reduce asthma symptoms: Omega 3 fatty acids help reduce the inflammatory substance leukotriene, the primary cause of asthma symptoms. As a result, regularly eating foods containing fish oil can help alleviate asthma symptoms.
Additionally, omega 3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects and can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as arthritis or cancer. Omega 3 fatty acids are crucial for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. Infants who do not receive sufficient omega 3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk of developing vision and nerve problems. Omega 3 fatty acids deficiency symptoms include heart problems, poor circulation, poor memory, fatigue, depression, and mood swings.
Should pregnant women take more omega 3 fatty acids?
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consume more omega 3 fatty acid-rich marine fish at least 2-3 times per week (200–300 mg daily) to reduce the risk of premature birth and aid in the fetal brain and the newborn's cognitive development.
What are the best food sources of omega 3?
Among all foods, fish is the best source of omega 3. Foods rich in DHA, and EPA, are oily marine fishes such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, herring, and albacore. Plant sources are the legumes such as flax seeds, pecans, hazelnuts, and walnuts. These foods are beneficial to the body, especially the cardiovascular system. As a result, regularly eating foods high in omega 3 fatty acids is recommended.
Khun Suchaya Satidpitakul