Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids, which means that they are essential to human health but cannot be manufactured by the body. For this reason, omega-3 fatty acids must be obtained from food. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish and certain plant oils. It is important to maintain an appropriate balance of omega-3 and omega-6 (another essential fatty acid) in the diet as these two substances work together to promote health. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function as well as normal growth and development. There are three major types of omega 3 fatty acids that are ingested in foods and used by the body: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Once eaten, the body converts ALA to EPA and DHA, the two types of omega-3 fatty acids more readily used by the body.Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy people, and those at high risk of — or who have — cardiovascular disease due to its following actions: decrease risk of arrhythmias, which can lead to sudden cardiac death decrease triglyceride levels decrease growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque lower blood pressure
Uses of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Heart Disease:Omega-3 Fatty Acids help in reducing risk factors for heart disease including high cholesterol and high blood pressure. There is also strong evidence that these substances can help prevent and treat atherosclerosis by inhibiting the development of plaque and blood clots, each of which tends to clog arteries.
Prevention of Stroke:omega-3 fatty acid intake (primarily from fish), helps protect against stroke caused by plaque buildup and blood clots in the arteries that lead to the brain.
Diabetes: People with diabetes tend to have high triglyceride and low HDL levels. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil can help lower triglycerides and raise HDL(Good Cholesterol), so people with diabetes may benefit from eating foods or taking supplements that contain DHA and EPA.
Arthritis: Because of its potent anti-inflammatory properties, regular consumption of Omega-3 Fatty acids benefits people suffering from inflammatory disorders such as Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis.
Osteoporosis: Omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA helps in increasing levels of calcium in the body, deposit calcium in the bones, and improve bone strength.
Depression: The omega-3 fatty acids are important components of nerve cell membranes. They help nerve cells communicate with each other, which is an essential step in maintaining good mental health and keeping depression at bay.
Burns: The omega-3 fatty acids have been used to reduce inflammation and promote wound healing in burn victims.
Skin Disorders: Regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids has shown significant improvement in patients suffering from skin disorders like psoriasis.
Asthma:Omega-3 fatty acid supplements have shown to decrease inflammation and improve lung function in adults with asthma.
Macular Degeneration: Regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids can retard the onset of Macular Degeneration, a degenerative disease of eye.
Sources of Omega-3 fatty acid :Fish oils and plant oils are the primary dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids. EPA and DHA are found in cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines, and herring. ALA is found in flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, canola (rapeseed) oil, soybeans, soybean oil, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil, walnuts, and walnut oil.