There’s a new player in town when it comes to staying healthy, and you don’t have to look much further than your local grocery store to find it. Omega-3 fatty-acids are key players in the function of several bodily processes, which make them a crucial component to optimal wellness. The benefits of omega-3 are endless; the best food sources for Omega-3 are found mainly in marine animals as well as certain plants ¬– although Omega-3 supplements are also a good source of this power-packed nutrient.
Why Omega-3s are Important
There are two main reasons why Omega-3 fats should be a part of your daily diet:
- Makes cell membranes flexible, elastic and resilient: Cell membranes are made of lipids and are highly dependent on what type of fat we consume. Healthy cell membranes allow for a seamless flow of more nutrients going into the cell with waste flowing out, which results in an overall healthier cell.
- Fights inflammation: Low-grade inflammation in the body that has gone untreated has been linked to chronic diseases that include Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
The health benefits of Omega-3 are endless. Benefits of Omega-3 include the reduction of inflammation by decreasing the production of inflammatory prostaglandins and by the lowering levels of cortisol, which is a hormone secreted in response to stress. We can’t forget about Omega-6 fats, which are commonly found in processed foods and linked to chronic inflammation. Alone, they aren’t bad, but when the ratio between Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats are out of balance, it can wreak havoc on our systems and increase inflammation. That’s why increasing our Omega-3 intake – either through diet or supplements – can make all the difference.
Heart of the Matter
Based on recent studies, the American Heart Association states that Omega-3 fatty acids can benefit the hearts of healthy people and those who have cardiovascular disease. Fish oils have been found to be beneficial for heart disease, and one study revealed people who had the highest levels of Omega-3s in their blood saw their risk of death fall by 27%, primarily due to a drop in cardiovascular mortality (“Annals of Internal Medicine”).
Here are some additional heart-healthy benefits of Omega-3 to include in your diet:
- Fish oil can help ward off disturbances in heart rate or arrhythmia (“American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”).
- Omega-3s have demonstrated the ability to improve lipid levels, including reductions in triglycerides (atherosclerosis supplements).
- Decreases arterial stiffness and blood clotting times.
- May help fight obesity – a major risk factor in heart disease – by aiding in appetite suppression, increased lean tissue development, and reduced fat deposition (nutrients).
Omega-3 fats help the head as well as the heart by combining to sharpen memory, reduce stress, and improve mood.
Here are some brain-boosting findings from researchers across the globe:
- Omega-3s reduced depression symptoms in older people (“Nutrition Journal”).
- Omega-3 supplementation “significantly improved cognitive functions” in healthy volunteers (“Nutrition Journal”).
- Link between the consumption of foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and reduced levels of beta amyloid, a protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease (“Neurology” – 6/5/12).
- Low DHA levels have been associated with vascular cognitive impairment (which is a major cause of dementia), and smaller brain volumes (“Neurology”).
Seeing is Believing
Omega-3s seem to have a special affinity in the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that translates images into electric signals and sends them along to the brain. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) accounts for between 50% and 60% of the fatty acids in rod outer segments (ROS). These are key components in the retinal cells responsible for low-light vision, where it is thought to fight inflammation, cellular death and abnormal blood vessel formation (“Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism”). This helps explain why higher Omega-3 levels have been linked to a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration, a major cause of blindness.
- Scientists keep finding other ways where Omega-3 fats may enhance well-being.
- Fish oil has reduced allergic reactions in children.
- Fish oil has reduced pressure sores in critically ill hospital patients.
- Researchers believe Omega-3s may be helpful in dealing with non-alcoholic liver disease and psoriasis.
- Fish oils also play roles in maintaining bone and kidney health.
- Omega-3s may even help ease aches.
Top Omega-3 Rich Foods
By now, you’re probably wondering what the best food sources for Omega-3 might be. Here’s a list of the top 15 Omega-3 foods:
2. Salmon Fish Oil
3. Cod Liver Oil
5. Chia Seeds
7. Salmon (wild-caught)
10. White Fish
12. Hemp Seeds
15. Egg Yolks
Whether you’re ready to dive into a can of tuna, grab a handful of walnuts, or search for the best Omega-3 supplement for your lifestyle, incorporating Omega-3 fatty acids into your diet is a great start to overall well-being.
For more information on how to incorporate Omega-3 into your diet, contact us today!