Discover omega-3 and all the ways in which it benefits our health. Here is what you need to know about this essential nutrient and its impressive functions.
The omega-3 essential fatty acids are some of the most important nutrients for maintaining our health and wellbeing. The name itself already gives us a hint that we should make sure we don’t run out of them. But what exactly are the benefits of omega-3? In this article we’re looking at the reasons why these fatty acids are considered essential to the good functioning of our bodies.
Mediterranean-inspired recipes are often hailed as not only delicious, but also good for our heart. This is because the fatty fish often found in Mediterranean diets is packed with omega-3. Studies1 suggest that omega-3 may help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart rhythm problems. The link between this fatty acid and heart health could be the ability of omega-3 to lower our triglycerides level. This is a type of fat we need to fuel our body with energy. But if there are too many triglycerides in our system, the result could trigger heart disease. This is why we may need omega-3 to help keep these substances in check.
Could one of the benefits of omega-3 include regulating our blood pressure? High blood pressure means that the circulating blood exerts too much pressure against the walls of blood vessels. When left untreated, it can lead to health issues such as coronary heart disease. Changes in lifestyle such as getting more exercise, quitting smoking or consuming less salt can help lower blood pressure. But studies2 point to omega-3 as another effective way to achieve a similar effect. This doesn’t mean that fatty acids will replace your blood pressure medication any time soon, but they may help support your overall heart health.
The search for ways to alleviate the joint pain that comes with arthritis has led some experts to essential fatty acids as well. Their research3 has found another surprising benefit of omega-3: attenuating the disease in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
Could omega-3 also help us manage mood disorders? Experts are excited about this possibility4. Although more research is needed to establish a definite connection between this essential nutrient and its ability to relieve depression, it seems that it has an interesting property that gives scientists studying it great hope: omega-3 can travel easily beyond the brain cell membrane where molecules affecting our mood live. Whether or not omega-3 holds the key to improving our mental health remains to be seen, but adopting a healthy diet that includes this fatty acid is helpful for our overall physical health, which can only contribute positively to our mental health too.
Omega-3 may also complement the standard treatments for ADHD. Although it’s too early to be sure, initial research5 aimed at improving symptoms of ADHD in young people with omega-3 deficiency points to possible benefits of supplementing the intake of this fatty acid.
We’ve all experienced restless nights when we just can’t shut off our brain for a good sleep. It turns out that one of the possible benefits of omega-3 might be its ability to solve this problem too. Research6 indicates that better sleep quality can be achieved with an adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Although we’re waiting for more studies to help establish the exact mechanism allowing this magic to happen, it’s more and more obvious that keeping our omega-3 stores topped up has many hidden benefits.
Now that we know the important tasks these precious molecules of fatty acids are able to accomplish, where can we get our daily dose from? The short answer is fish. The longer explanation involves knowing which type of fish can give us the amount of omega-3 we need. You should aim to include oily fish to your diet such as sardines, salmon and mackerel. The great thing about oily fish is that it also comes packed with another important nutrient, vitamin D. According to the NHS, we should eat at least 1 portion (around 140g when cooked) of oily fish a week. So, make sure you include it on your shopping list.
When it comes to the benefits of supplementing your intake of essential nutrients, it’s always best to talk to your doctor. Omega-3 supplements are available to help people who can’t consume foods rich in this fatty acid or who experience health problems that lower their ability to absorb the nutrient through their diet alone.
Now that you know all about the benefits of omega-3, discover more about what are the most important vitamins you should take.