Omega 3 fatty acids perform many health beneficial critical rules in the human body and that’s why here we are picking up 10 proven health benefits of eating omega 3 fatty acids for your information. Omega 3 fatty acids are members of the group of polyunsaturated fatty acids and found in only fewer foods. The human body can not produce it on its own. For that reason, it is called essential and you need to include these fatty acids in your diet.
Benefits of omega 3 fatty acids:
- Improve Cognitive and brain functioning
- Prevent Age-Related Mental Decline
- Prevent Inflammation and Rheumatoid arthritis, has a beneficial effect on joint swelling and pain, duration of morning stiffness
- Reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome
- Reduce high cholesterol and heart disease Risk
- Lower High blood pressure
- Improves vision health
- Reduce fat in the liver
- Lower the risk of depression
- Prevent some cancers
- There is no specific daily intake standard for omega 3. Many health organizations recommend a minimum of 250mg to 500mg as a daily dose of EPA and DHA combination for healthy adults. You should keep Omega 3 supplements away from heat, direct sunlight, and store in a cold place.
10 proven health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids have many beneficial effects on health preventing coronary heart disease and stroke, arthritis, high blood pressure, inflammation, promote mental growth, etc. Basically three types of omega 3 are involved in human physiology.
Plant-based omega 3 (alpha-linolenic acid):
This type of omega 3 is called alpha-linolenic acid, found in plant-based food such as flaxseed oil, canola oil, walnut, pumpkin seed, chia seeds, etc. The human body has to convert Alpha-linolenic acid to EPA and DHA but the conversion is only to a small degree. Consuming alpha-linolenic acid may help to lower LDL cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.
Animal-based omega 3 (EPA & DHA):
Animal-based omega 3 is the best source of omega 3 and found in two forms as eicosapentaenoic acids(EPA) and docosahexaenoic acids (DHA). They are highly unsaturated and most commonly found in seafood, such as Herring, Salmon, Mackerel, Sardine, krill, Crab, Shrimp, etc. Both have an array of vital health beneficial effects on human health in their own different way. For that reason, we need them both. DHA is a major structural cell component and is essential for growth, development, and normal function of the human brain (1). Apart from this retina of the eye also contains DHA in abundance. EPA plays important some rules and helps in lowering cardiovascular disease, high triglycerides (fats in the blood), high blood pressure, and inflammation. (2)
Although most of the sources of EPA and DHA are from non-vegan sources, there is also a source for EPA and DHA.
Cognitive and brain functioning:
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is essential for the structural and functional growth of the brain of children as well as normal brain function in adults. DHA is a structural constituent of membranes specifically in the central nervous system(Central nervous system consists of the brain and the spinal cord and controls most functions of body and mind). Studies justify the indication of DHA in relation to brain function for neuronal cell growth and differentiation as well as in relation to neuronal signaling. In a recent study, it is evidenced that DHA may heal cognitive decline and affect behavioral symptoms in major neuropsychiatric disorders such as dementia, schizophrenia, and depression. (3)
Prevent Age-Related Mental Decline:
In a recent study, it is evidenced that DHA may reform cognitive decline and affect behavioral symptoms in major neuropsychiatric disorders such as dementia, schizophrenia, and depression. (4)The brain is DHA enriched organ, and EPA may act as an anti-inflammatory substance. Studies found that EPA and DHA supplementation has a positive rule in the prevention of age-related cognitive decline and improves cognitive functioning. As per the general guideline of CDC, dietary recommendations of 2-3 fish meals per week or the equivalent intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA.(5)
Prevent Inflammation and Rheumatoid arthritis:
Omega 3 fish supplementation significantly lowers inflammation markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin 6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), thus helps in lowering inflammation. (6)In a systematic review of effects on clinical outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis, evidence was seen that omega 3 fish oil has a beneficial effect on joint swelling and pain, duration of morning stiffness. (7)Researchers found that there is high-level evidence (meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials) for symptomatic benefits from fish oil use in rheumatoid arthritis. (8)
Reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome:
Omega 3 fatty acids appear to be beneficial for improving the cardiovascular risk profile of subjects with metabolic syndrome, having effects on fall in body weight, lowering systolic high blood pressure, lipids profile, and lower inflammation. (9)
Reduce high cholesterol and heart disease Risk:
Researchers found long term supplementation of omega 3 about one year may be beneficial to reduce the risk of cardiac death, sudden death, and myocardial infarction(heart attack) among people having cardiovascular disease or with a family history of cardiovascular disease. (10)It should be noted that only omega 3 fatty acids from fishes or fish oil supplements are beneficial for cardiovascular health, not plant-based alpha-linolenic acid. (11)
DHA and EPA help to reduce triglycerides and may potentially reduce cardiovascular risk. However, the research found DHA may also raise LDL cholesterol. (12) But DHA increased mainly the number of large, fluffy LDL particles. Unlike small, dense LDL particles large particle is not linked with increased risk of heart disease. (13,14)
A study in 2016, on Icosapent ethyl, a high-purity EPA formulation, with a dose of 4g/day for ≥2 months, has an outcome with lowering of LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides in major. It concluded, Icosapent ethyl, a high-purity EPA formulation, has a favorable effect in lipid change than high-risk statin treatment. (15)Statin is a cholesterol-lowering pharmaceutical medication. If you wish to go for supplements, read the percentage of EPA and DHA, source of fish oil. If you are at an elevated level of LDL cholesterol, you may consider a higher percentage of EPA.
Lower High blood pressure:
Omega 3 with EPA and DHA evidence to lower high blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic) in people with higher blood pressure.(16) Thus taking omega 3 fish oil is beneficial for people with high blood pressure. You can also read more about high blood pressure here.
Also read about the top foods to reduce high blood pressure.
DHA is a major structural component of the brain and retina of the eye. (17)Retinopathy is a disease in the retina of the eye caused by abnormal growth of blood and can be a cause of blindness. Researchers found that eating more fish or taking omega-3 fatty acid dietary supplements may help prevent and treat abnormal blood vessel growth seen in progressive retinopathies, if not related diseases. (18)
Age-related macular degeneration is a major cause of blindness worldwide and is also linked with omega 3 fatty acids. Researchers found evidence that omega 3 fatty acids have a protective role against ischemia and age-related damage of vascular and neural retina of the eye. (19)
Reduce fat in the Liver:
Bad food habits and physical inactivity contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver in many cases. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), the progressive form of Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, is characterized by hepatic steatosis, inflammation, oxidative stress, and fibrosis and is predicted to the leading cause of liver transplants by 2020. There are long studies, and study established that supplementation with DHA reduces diet-induced NASH.(20)
In a study of systematic review and meta-analysis, suggest that omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may decrease liver fat. (21)
Depression is a rapidly growing health concern in today’s society. A meta-analysis 26 studies in 2016, indicates high fish oil consumption can lower the risk of depression. (22)
Prevent some cancer:
Obesity is one of the major health concerns today. Excessive obesity often accelerates chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. (23)In a study published in Advances In Nutrition, An International Review-Journal in 2015, suggest that DHA may prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and reduce the risk of primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma/HCC). (24)However, we need more researches in these fields.
A common source of omega3 fish oil includes Herring, Salmon, Pacific chub mackerel, Atlantic mackerel, Spanish mackerel, Sardine, krill, Crab, Shrimp, etc.
King mackerel, bigeye tuna, etc are identified as high-level mercury-contaminated fish. For that reason, you should avoid those fish along with other contaminated fish to avoid heavy metal toxicity.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are sensitive to heat and loss their property when heated to high temperatures. Cooking, baking, and microwave heating retains better omega 3 fatty acids in fish than frying and canning. (25) That’s why you should take care in the preparation of fish containing omega 3 fatty acids.
There is no specific daily intake standard for omega 3. Many health organizations recommend a minimum of 250mg to 500mg as a daily dose of EPA and DHA combination for healthy adults. (26, 27)You should keep Omega 3 supplements away from heat, direct sunlight, and store in a cold place.
However pregnant or breastfeeding women, individuals with a fish allergy or taking blood-thinning medicine or any other complication should consult with a healthcare provider before taking omega 3.
Disclaimer: Information provided here are generalized information for informational and entertainment purpose only, not intended to provide one to one health consultation or replace practice of a qualified practitioner. Different people may have different health condition and may have different reaction to the same food. Hence it has been advised to consult with health care provider before application of any of above information
Source & References:
1.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10479465 2.http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/eicosapentaenoic- acid-epa 3,4,& 5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728620/ 6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3914936/ 7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22591891 8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18638687 9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19593941 10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23958480 11.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16825676 12.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26566071 13.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29846653 14.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29628276 15.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27684412 16.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24610882 17.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2136947 18.https://nei.nih.gov/news/scienceadvances/advances/omega 19.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15555528 20.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28422962 21.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22023985 22.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26359502?dopt=Abstract 23.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27448716 24.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4642422/ 25.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23572621 26.http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/83/6/S1526.full 27.http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.2903/j.efsa.2012.2815/abstract