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6 scientifically supported health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids



  • Omega-3 fatty acids can lower blood pressure and reduce triglycerides, thereby improving your heart health.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids can also fight chronic inflammation, which is related to diabetes, cancer and high cholesterol levels.
  • To get enough omega-3 in your diet, you should eat fatty fish like salmon or mackerel 2 to 3 times a week.
  • This article is Medically reviewed By Scott Kaiser, MD, Geriatrics, Director of Geriatric Cognitive Health, Pacific Neuroscience Institute, St. John’s Health Center, Providence, Santa Monica, California.
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    7;s Health Reference Library for more suggestions.

Omega-3 fatty acids are fats that are vital to our health. There are three main forms of these fats:

  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). These fatty acids are found in some nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and chia seeds.
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These fatty acids are found in fish, such as salmon and mackerel.
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids are found in fish, such as herring and sardines.

There are six benefits of consuming these omega-3 fatty acids, and how to incorporate these three types of diet into your diet:

1. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of heart disease

Omega-3 fatty acids have many benefits for cardiovascular health. Several ways omega-3s may help improve heart health include:

A very large review in 2016 collected data from 16 countries/regions and found that people who regularly consume seafood and plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids have a lower risk of dying from coronary heart disease.

In addition, omega-3 fatty acids can also reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

2. Omega-3 fatty acids improve eye health

DHA is one of the three types of Omega-3. It is found in high content in the retina. DHA is a part of the eye. It can sense light and send signals to the brain for you to see. Adequate DHA is important for the structure and function of the retina.

Nutritionist Samantha Cassetty (Samantha Cassetty) said: “Most DHA is accumulated in the retina while in utero.” Therefore, for pregnant women, intake of enough omega-3 fatty acids to ensure its The child’s eye development is particularly important.

Omega-3s can also improve dry eye. A big review in 2018 looked at the use of omega-3 and omega-6 dietary supplements to treat dry eye. Studies have found that supplements can increase eye lubrication, but the results are not sufficient to recommend supplements as an independent treatment for dry eye.

3. Omega-3 fatty acids can fight inflammation

Inflammation is a natural immune response to injury and infection. Acute inflammation (such as swelling or redness) that occurs after scratching the knee is beneficial and helps the tissue heal after damage.

However, according to Kelly Hogan, a registered dietitian in New York City, chronic inflammation is a type of chronic inflammation that is related to the persistence of the inflammatory response after the wound has healed. It is related to diabetes, cancer and high cholesterol.

Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties, which means they can help reduce chronic inflammation. Foods high in EPA and DHA, such as salmon and sardines, are more effective than ALA found in plants. Aim to consume two to three servings of fatty fish a week for maximum benefit.

4. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce liver fat

Omega 3 fatty acids have shown promise in the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). When too much fat accumulates in the liver, NAFLD occurs and may cause symptoms such as abdominal swelling and splenomegaly.

A 2016 meta-analysis of studies involving NAFLD patients found that omega-3 supplementation can improve liver fat, optimize liver enzyme levels and regulate blood fat content.

5. Omega-3 fatty acids promote joint health

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that causes joint tenderness, swelling and stiffness, involving a high degree of chronic inflammation. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, omega-3 fatty acids can relieve pain and stiffness associated with diseases.

A small study in 2016 found that after treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, patients who took omega-3 supplements (1.8g EPA and 2.1g DHA) twice a day for 12 weeks compared with those who had received rheumatoid joints Compared with patients with inflammation, pain was reduced, joint swelling was reduced and physical strength was increased and received a placebo.

6. Omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy promote healthy brain growth

DHA is the main structural fatty acid in the central nervous system, so it is essential for normal fetal brain development. Therefore, it is particularly important for pregnant women to get enough DHA, because 15% of brain development occurs in the uterus.

How much omega-3 should I get?

According to data from the National Institutes of Health, the recommended daily omega-3 intake for each age group is:

However, this recommendation only applies to one type of omega-3 fatty acid: ALA, because it is the only omega-3 fatty acid that is considered an essential nutrient, which means the body cannot produce it on its own. For the other two types, there is no national recommendation.

It is very important to consume all three types of omega-3 fatty acids. Cassetty said that although your body can only synthesize DHA and EPA by consuming ALA, it is not synthesized enough to provide all the health benefits of these types.

For pregnant women

Because Omega-3 is essential to the normal development of fetuses and newborns, women who are currently pregnant, breastfeeding or may become pregnant should take care of Omega-3. Pregnant women should consume 8 to 12 ounces of fish a week. However, if you are pregnant, you should choose seafood with low mercury content because this mineral can harm the fetus.

Some low mercury, high omega-3 options include:

  • salmon
  • Anchovy
  • Herring
  • sardine

Food sources of omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, which means your body cannot produce them, so you must consume them through your diet. They are found in animal and plant products.

ALA is mainly found in plants, such as nuts and seeds.

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Yuqing Liu/Insider


EPA and DHA are mainly found in animals, especially fatty fish.

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Yuqing Liu/Insider


Omega-3 supplements

Most people can get adequate levels of omega 3 fatty acids through a varied diet. However, some people who may need to consider omega-3 supplementation include:

If you are taking omega-3 supplements, be sure to tell your doctor because it may interact with blood pressure medications, hormonal contraceptives, and some weight loss pills.

Insider’s takeaway

Omega-3 fatty acids are very helpful to your health. They can reduce your risk of the following diseases

heart disease
, Fight inflammation and reduce liver fat. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in sources such as nuts and fish. Talk to your doctor before supplementing omega-3s to make sure this is the right decision for you and your health.


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