Adding fats to your diet is essential for a healthy lifestyle, but it has to be the right kind of fats. [[wiki:Essential fatty acids]] (EFA) fall into this category and are a crucially important addition to anyone’s diet. There are two groups fatty acids known to be essential for humans: Omega-3 and Omega-6.
Although there are only very slight differences to distinguish the two groups of essential fatty acids from each other, studies have revealed that too much intake of omega-6 EFAs can lead to inflammation, blood clotting and tumor growth. The good news, however, is that the opposite is true for omega-3 EFAs. Omega-6 EFAs can be found in vegetable oils this includes but is not limited to corn oil and soy oil, both of which contains high amounts of linoleic acid. Omega-3 EFAs can be found in fish oils, flaxseed and walnuts among other foods. Fatty fish and fish oils contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
The two essential fatty acids, EPA and DHA, are also helpful in preventing atherosclerosis, heart attacks, depression and various forms of cancer. Fish oil supplemented food have also proven to be useful in treating illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Raynaud’s disease and ulcerative colitis. A study in the early 1970’s on Greenland Eskimos has shown that one of the major reasons why they rarely suffer from heart diseases is because of their high-fat diet (mainly composed of fish).
The most widely available dietary source of EPA and DHA is cold water oily fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines.
Omega 3 benefits:
- Improves Heart Health – fish oil and Omega 3 benefits include reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, reducing the risk of heart-related sudden death and lowering unhealthy triglyceride levels. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends two servings of fish a week for healthy persons and one serving per day of fish or fish oil supplement containing at least 900mg of fish oil for persons with heart disease.
- Improves Mood – persons suffering from mood disorders such as depression benefit from fish oil supplementation and Omega 3. The lack of omega 3 fatty acids (DHA) has been linked by researchers to depression.
- Reduces Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease – clinical studies suggest that fish oil and DHA may protect the nervous system in humans.
- Improves Memory and Brain Function – DHA and fish oil have been proven to stimulate memory and the ability to learn. Research has shown that mothers who take supplemental DHA during their pregnancy and lactation may increase their baby’s IQ.
- Reduces Allergies – fish oil protects against the symptoms of hay fever, sinus infections, asthma, certain food allergies and allergic skin conditions like hives and eczema.
- Reduces Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms – Omega 3 benefits come from the EPA and DHA in fish oil that reduces a number of compounds causing inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of inflammatory arthritis.
- Improves Eye Health – consuming fish oil is related to lowered risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, an increasing common eye disease in people over 50.
- Reduces PMS Symptoms in Women – Omega 3 is converted into substances called ‘prostaglandins type-3’ that control contractions of the uterus, which cause the cramping.
- Improves Skin and Hair Health – fish oil helps protect the skin against damage from UV exposure, and skin disorders such as psoriasis can consider fish oil supplementation a treatment option.
- Lowers Cancer Risk – studies on Omega 3 benefits have linked lowered risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer to the consumption of fish oil.