Before you decide to go on on a totally fat-free diet, do read this about Omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential “good” fats that provide several health benefits to the body. A diet devoid of omega 3 can lead to several health problems, such as depression and unhealthy skin. In general, omega 3 fatty acids are vital for many body functions and provide protection from several diseases.
Omega 3 fatty acids are also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). These fats have double bond chemical structures that make them interactive and flexible (lighter to digest). Bad fats have a single bond structure, which is why they are more solid in form and contribute to “stickiness” in arteries, as seen in bad cholesterol.
There are two types of Omega 3 fatty acids:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – These are mostly found in plant-based foods and oils. Dairy products and eggs can also provide small amounts of ALAs.
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – These two are mostly found in marine food, such as algae, fatty fish and fish oils.
The body cannot make its own ALAs and these have to be obtained only from food. Some amounts of EPAs and DHAs are produced in the body, but these are negligible for any health benefits. Research shows that both the above types of omega 3 are important for good health, hence it is vital to imbibe both to obtain maximum benefits.
Omega 3 fatty acids are considered one of the most important nutrients today. One of their chief functions is to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL) levels, leading to better cardio health, besides reducing chances of high BP. They are extremely influential in fighting inflammation and warding off inflammatory diseases.
Other benefits include:
- Improved behavior and cognitive function – omega 3 fatty acids are vital during pregnancy, for the fetus to develop a normal brain
- Reduced effects of joint pain and stiffness caused by arthritis and osteoarthritis
- Excellent for skin health, especially in acne and psoriasis
- Reduction in premenstrual symptoms
- Reduction of severity of symptoms in systematic lupus and other autoimmune diseases
- Probable preventive and controlling effects on cancers
- Improved eye health and delay in age-related macular degeneration
Foods which are rich in Omega-3:
Vegetarian based foods: Brussels sprouts, Kale, Spinach, and salad greens. Vegetable oils, such as soy, rapeseed and nuts like flaxseeds and walnuts.
Marine foods: Mackerel, Lake Trout, Herring, Sardines, Albacore Tuna, Salmon, and all fatty fish.