In the past 3 decades, researchers have developed a keen interest in omega-3 essential fatty acids. These acids have certain properties that entail health benefits. Though investigation about these acids had started in 1950, it was not until the 1970’s that omega-3 fatty acids were taken seriously.
Bang and Dyerberg established that omega-3 eating population suffered from lower cases of CVD and some other ailments than population that consumed low levels of these acids.
Thus, these acids gained popularity and have been used to treat a number of health conditions. Through this article you’ll get to know everything about this group of acids.
What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
This group of fatty acids is comprised of a number of acids. All these acids are polyunsaturated and have double bonds in-between some of the carbon atoms. On one end of the chain, they have a methyl group (CH3) while on the other end they have a carboxylic acid group (COOH).
Omega-3 fatty acids are called essential fatty acids because even though the human body, like all other mammals, is incapable of the acid production, it forms an integral part of all the human metabolic processes.
The other common name for this group is n-3 fatty acids. It is only produced by some plants and animals, thus humans have to depend on these external sources for their daily requirement. Among the other acids in the group, 3 are extremely important. These are ALA (alpha linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
Sources Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
This essential group of nutrients is found in some plants and animals only. Fishes such as herring, halibut, clam, tuna, sardine, salmon, mackerel and shrimp are rich in EPA and DHA.
ALA is mostly found in plant sources like soybeans, walnuts, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, nuts and green vegetables.
Benefits Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
This nutrient group gained popularity because of its medical properties. It was a study done in 1950 using some sardine oil that revealed how these acids could reduce cholesterol in the body and since then through several studies multiple properties were discovered.
Reduces Cardiac Problems And Deaths
One of the very first properties that were discovered was a boon to all CVD patients. Studies showed that the intake of omega-3s reduced incidences of myocardial infarction.
Sudden deaths related to coronary heart diseases and arrhythmias can also be prevented by regular intake of these nutrients.
The Circulatory System
People suffering from circulatory problems such as varicose veins can use these essential acids which help by increasing the blood circulation, breaking down fibrin and lowering the blood pressure.
These fatty acids can lower the levels of triglycerides present in the blood benefitting people with hyperlipidemia by inhibiting the production of VLDL (very-low-density lipoprotein) and triglycerides in the liver.
Research suggests that a daily intake of a minute quantity of this acid group can subdue stiffness, pains and swollen joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Omega-3 plays a vital role in the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are similar to hormones that help in maintaining normal bodily functions such as blood pressure, blood clotting, organ functions, neural transmissions etc.
A recent study has discovered the presence of a chemical called resolvin in the body. It has anti-inflammatory properties and maintains smooth flow of blood. This chemical is derived from EPA. Resolvin works by inhibiting free movement of inflammatory cells or chemicals to other parts of the body. The enzymes present in the body converts EPA into resolvin.
Omega-3 essential acids are also beneficial for pregnant women. They help in proper development of the fetus and keeps the maternal body healthy.
DHA has been linked to neurogenesis. It is known that aging people often suffer from dementia but research has established that those who intake a substantial amount of DHA do not suffer from cognitive declination at all.
Research has shown that these essential nutrients can help children and adults afflicted by ADHD. A higher cognitive function was seen in ADHD patients when they were given an omega-3 rich diet.
The American Hearts association have recommended that people with CVD should intake more omega-3 fatty acids than others. It is advised that people with CVD disease must have at least 2 helpings of omega-e enriched foods while others may have 1.
If you are taking capsule form, it is recommended that you intake 1 gram capsule thrice daily. DHA says that daily intake of 3grams of these acids is safe and beneficial.
More than 60% people do not take the recommended dosage of this nutrient and suffer from some deficiencies. But, since the deficiency symptoms are not clear they are related to other nutritional deficiencies. Some of the noticeable deficiency symptoms include weakness, tiredness, dry skin, scaly skin, constipation, brittle nails, hair fall, depression and body pains. These symptoms vary from one person to another.
According to the FDA intake of more than 3 grams per day can cause some negative effects on most people. These include increased bleeding, higher levels of LDL and low glycemic control in diabetes patients.
How To Store And Cook
Omega-3 fatty acids are vulnerable to damage from heat and light and have a tendency to get easily oxidized as well. If the nutrient is exposed for too long to one of the harmful agent, it loses all its properties and becomes rancid. The oils should be stored in dark colored glass bottles.
Ensure that the caps are closed tightly and store them in the refrigerator. If you are using processed oils enriched with EPA and DHA (walnut oil or flax seed oil) instead of heating them use them as dressing for salads, this way all its properties stays intact. Fishes too should not be fried; instead you may roast, bake or steam the fishes before consumption.
Omega-3 essential acids when taken along with blood thinning medication like aspirin, increases the thinning property. EPA when taken along with topical corticosteroids may alleviate symptoms of Psoriasis.
Caution: Please use Home Remedies after Proper Research and Guidance. You accept that you are following any advice at your own risk and will properly research or consult healthcare professional.