There are many benefits of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are important for your health and longevity, so make sure you're getting enough in your daily diet.
What Are Omega 3 Fatty Acids?
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids - or EFAs for short - which means they are necessary for your health but cannot be manufactured by the human body. In other words, you need to make sure that you get enough of omega-3s in the food you eat.
Don't let the word acid throw you. All fats are acids. Fatty acids do all sorts of important things in the human body, like acting as major players in both neural and cardiovascular health. Without fatty acids, your heart and brain would not work properly. They are also essential for muscle function, energy storage and proper cell growth.
The Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
There are many benefits to getting more omega 3 fatty acids in your diet. Here's how omega 3 acids and other EFAs can help improve your health:
- Prevents excessive blood clotting
- Lowers your cholesterol and triglyceride levels by regulating blood fats
- Reduced inflammation throughout the body
- Maintains healthy cell membranes
- Maintains myelin sheathes and brain function
- Prevents artery hardening, or arteriosclerosis
- Helps prevent the growth of cancer
- Improves the body's response to insulin
- Help with fetal development when taken during pregnancy
Omega 3s and Prenatal Health
If you are pregnant, you should know that omega 3 fatty acids are important for both you and your baby. Here are some of the benefits for getting more EFAs during pregnancy:
- Helps build your baby's brain, nervous system and eyes
- Reduced your chances of developing pre-eclampsia and postpartum depression
- Reduces the likelihood of preterm labor
Essential fatty acid deficiency while pregnant may contribute to a series of problems:
- Postpartum depression
- Low birth weight
- Preterm labor
Eating more foods that are high in omega 3s or taking a supplement that provides more fatty acids can help ensure good health for you and your baby. As always, talk to your doctor or other health care provider before starting any supplements while you are pregnant.
Are You Not Getting Enough?
Some people do not get enough essential fatty acids in their diet. If you experience any of the following conditions or symptoms, talk to your doctor about a potential deficiency in EFAs:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Brittle hair and nails
- Joint pain
- Problems concentrating
- Cardiovascular disease
- Dry, itchy skin and scalp
Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
If you're interested in the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, here are some of the foods you can eat to get more into your diet:
- Fatty fish, such as salmon, cod and mackerel
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
- Dark green leafy vegetables
If you are interested in nutritional supplements, here are a few that you can find at your local health food or nutrional store:
More Information on EFAs
Essential fatty acids are very important to your health, and there is a lot to learn about how they work and integrate with your system. If you still have questions about how EFAs, like omega 3s, can benefit your health, check out these links to help in your research:
- The Mayo Clinic talks about the basics of omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil and alpha-linolenic acid.
- The National Institutes of Health has a great fact sheet about fatty acids and your health.
- Here's more about omega 3 fatty acids and pregnancy.
- Which foods are highest in omega 3 fatty acids? This list will help you find out how to get more.