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Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids. They have a double bond at the third carbon from the end of the carbon chain. The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They are also known as omega-3 fats.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

ALA is mostly found in plant oils such as soybean, canola and flaxseed oil. Whereas, DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood. They are considered essential fats as our body cannot prepare them and we have to get them from food. DHA is high in the amount in the retina (eye), brain, and sperm cells. They are metabolised and oxidized in the liver.

Why are omega 3 fatty acids important?

These fatty acids are an important part of cell membranes in our body. They play an important role in the functioning of cell receptors in the cell membranes. For example, they help in the formation of hormones that control clotting of blood, movement of artery walls and inflammation. They also bind to receptors of cells that take part in the regulation of genetic functions. So, they are found effective in preventing heart disease and stroke.

Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Reduces blood fat (triglycerides): These fatty acids, particularly found in fish oil, can lower high triglyceride levels. Thus, it helps prevent the risk of stroke and heart diseases.

Reduce stiffness and joint pain: EPA and DHA help treat stiffness and pain in joints. They also seem to improve the efficacy of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Alleviates depression: They may also help reduce and prevent depression. However, EPA is believed to be the most effective at preventing depression.

Baby growth: DHA seems to provide visual and neurological health benefits to babies.

Prevents Asthma: They lower inflammation, a major reason for asthma in most people.

ADHD: As per some studies, omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in children and can help improve their mental skills like thinking, memory, learning, etc.

Alzheimer's disease and dementia: It has been found in some research that omega-3 helps prevent Alzheimer's disease and dementia and may reduce the gradual memory loss due to ageing.

Autoimmune diseases: They helps fight various autoimmune disorders like type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, etc.

Prevent cancer: They also help prevent cancer as suggested by some research. Their intake can reduce the chances of colon, prostate and breast cancer.

Reduce Liver fat: It helps treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) by reducing liver fat caused by NAFLD.

Healthy skin: They help keep skin healthy by preventing premature aging, protecting from sun damage, reducing the risk of acne.

Eye health: DHA is a structural component of the eye retina. So, they reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a major cause of eye damage.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Foods

Lots of foods provide these fatty acids, some of which that are high in omega-3 are listed below:

  1. Mackerel: They are small fatty fish. In 100 gm of mackerel, you can get 5,134 mg of omega-3.
  2. Salmon: It is one of the most nutritious foods. 100 gm of salmon can give you 2260 mg of omega-3.
  3. Cod liver oil: It is consumed as a supplement instead food. As the name suggests, it is obtained from the liver of codfish. It is not only rich in omega-3 but also high in vitamins A and D. One tablespoon of cod liver oil contains 2682 mg of omega-3 fatty acids.
  4. Herring: It is an oily fish of average size. It is usually pickled or precooked and then is sold as a canned snack. It is common breakfast food in many countries such as England, where it is eaten with eggs and is known as kippers. You can get 2366 mg omega-3 in 100 gm of Herring.
  5. Oysters: Shellfish are counted among the most notorious foods. One can get 435 mg omega-3 in 100 gm of shellfish. Further, they contain zinc more than any food on the Earth.
  6. Sardines: They are oily fishes small in size. They are consumed as a starter, snacks, etc. They contain almost all the nutrients required by our body. 100 gm of them can provide 1480 mg of omega-3 fatty acids.
  7. Anchovies: They are tiny oily fish, which are sold dried or canned. These fishes can be stuffed in olives and can also be used as toppings on pizza, salad, etc. Apart from omega-3 (2113 mg per 100 gm), they are also high in niacin and selenium.
  8. Caviar: It is made of fish eggs or roe. It is consumed in small quantities such as starter, taster, etc. It is a rich source of choline and omega-3 (6786 mg per 100 gm).
  9. Flax seeds: They are small and brown or yellow colored seeds. They are usually ground to produce oil. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). 10 gm of flax seeds can give 2350 mg of omega-3.
  10. Chia seeds: They are also rich in manganese, selenium and magnesium including omega-3 fat. 30 gm of chia seeds can provide you 5060 mg of omega-3 fatty acids.
  11. Walnuts: Along with omega-3, they are also high in fiber, copper and manganese, and vitamin E; around 30 gm of walnut contains 2570 mg of omega-3.
  12. Soybeans: They also provide fiber and vegetable protein including omega-3. The 100 gm of soybean can provide you 1443 mg of omega-3 fat.
  13. Algal oil: It is a rich source of both EPA and DHA. This oil is obtained from algae. The algal oil supplements can provide 400 to 500 mg of DHA and EPA, which fulfils 45-160% of the daily need.
  14. Perilla oil: It is derived from perilla seeds. It is widely used as a cooking oil in Korean foods. It is high in ALA. 14 gms of it provides around 9000 mg of ALA omega-3 fat. It should be used to improve flavor or dressing to get maximum benefits, rather than as a cooking oil.

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