As it is not produced naturally in our body, Omega 3 must be obtained through food. Our need for this fatty acid begins when we are still in our mothers’ womb and it continues throughout our adult lives. Food and nutrition experts note that Omega 3 has an important role in our diets, explaining that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have an important place in the family of Omega 3 fatty acids.
Diet and nutrition specialist Müge Özyurt from Acıbadem Fulya Hospital stresses that foods rich in Omega 3 need to be consumed for healthy body function. Of all the Omega 3 fatty acids, EPA is the most effective in preventing cardiovascular disease in adults, while DHA is effective in aiding sight, growth and brain development. The best source of Omega 3 fatty acids is seafood such as cold water fish. Salmon and sardines are the richest in Omega 3. As it can be difficult to find specific fish during certain times of the year, you can opt for anchovies, mackerel and bluefish, which are more readily available. Other sources of Omega 3 include purslane, walnuts, linseed oil and rapeseed oil, although these contain lower amounts.
What health problems can Omega 3 combat?
Omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA can help prevent the formation of blood clots and help protect our vascular system. They can help prevent cardiovascular disease, reduce blood pressure and thin the blood. They also aid in the prevention of atherosclerosis as well as slowing down the development of this ailment. An increase in Omega 3 consumption can decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increase our levels of good cholesterol (HDL), thus helping to maintain heart and vascular health.
The benefits of Omega 3 don’t stop there. Almost 60 percent of the brain is comprised of fat and DHA forms 20-30 percent of this. DHA is responsible for the formation and functions of cell membranes. It is important not just during the development of the brain, but also for maintaining the connections between the neurons throughout our lives. Thus, it can help prevent the deterioration of cognitive function.
Scientific research has shown that Omega 3 fatty acids can also have the effect of delaying the formation and spread of breast, colon, pancreatic and prostate cancers. The consumption of foods rich in Omega 3 can help protect against cancer.
Include fish in your diet
In order to make the most of the benefits of Omega 3, we need to consume fish on a regular basis. Özyurt recommends that fish be a normal part our diets and consumed two or three times a week. However, we must also be mindful that some fish, particularly those that have come from polluted waters, may contain heavy metals such as arsenic and mercury. For this reason we must opt for fish that comes from clean waters. Özyurt explains that farmed fish are adequate for meeting our Omega 3 needs. Naturally, eating the fish itself the healthiest option; however, when fresh fish is not readily available there are alternatives to chose from. This fatty acid can be found in fish oil supplements as well as in capsule form. When shopping, make sure that any products you buy are compatible with international quality standards and do not contain heavy metals.
Omega 3 plays an important role in the health and development of children and is vital for their mental development. The Omega 3 fatty acid DHA is important for good ocular health and function. Furthermore, the positive effects of Omega 3 fatty acids have been observed in cases of mental illness, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity and learning disability.
Omega 3 is essential for everyone; both adults and children need to make sure they are receiving an adequate amount of Omega 3 in their diet. Those who are in the high-risk category for heart disease, those with high levels of cholesterol and those who are obese or overweight should make a special effort to integrate this essential fatty acid into their diet. However, it is important to consult your doctor about the optimal ways to support your current diet with Omega 3.