Most of the different kinds of fats the body needs can be synthesised from other fats or raw materials. Omega-3 fatty acids, however, are not in this category (also called omega-3 fats and n-3 fats). The body needs to get these from food because it can’t produce them on its own. Fish, vegetable oils, nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds, flaxseed oil, and leafy greens are all good sources of Omega-3.
Just what is it about omega-3 fats that makes them so exceptional? Located on the surface of all of the body’s cells, their presence alters the performance of the cell receptors there. They serve as precursors to hormones that control blood clotting, artery contraction and relaxation, and inflammation. Additionally, they interact with cell receptors involved in controlling genetic activity. As a result of these mechanisms, omega-3 fats have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, and they may also help manage inflammatory conditions like lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis, and even provide some protection against cancer.
In the realm of polyunsaturated fats, omega-3s play a pivotal role. You can break it down into three
Fish is a common source of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two types of omega-3 fatty acids.
Vegetable oils and nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds and flaxseed oil, leafy vegetables, and some animal fat, particularly that of grass-fed animals, are all good sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the most common omega-3 fatty acid in most Western diets. The majority of ALA consumed by the body is used for energy, and very little of it is converted into EPA and DHA.
The strongest evidence for a beneficial effect of omega-3 fats has to do with heart disease. These fats appear to aid in maintaining a normal heart rate and preventing potentially fatal arrhythmias. Such arrhythmias cause most of the 500,000-plus cardiac deaths that occur each year in the United States. In addition to reducing blood pressure and heart rate and improving blood vessel function, omega-3 fats at higher doses also reduce triglycerides and may reduce inflammation, both of which contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.
Several large trials have evaluated the effect of fish or fish oils on heart disease. Heart attack survivors who took an omega-3 fat capsule containing 1 gramme per day for three years were less likely to have another heart attack, stroke, or sudden death than those who took a placebo, according to the GISSI Prevention Trial conducted by the Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell’Infarto Miocardio. Significantly, the danger of dying from a heart attack was cut by half. In the more recent Japan EPA Lipid Intervention Study (JELIS), participants who took EPA plus a cholesterol-lowering statin were less likely to have a major coronary event (sudden cardiac death, fatal or nonfatal heart attack, unstable angina, or a procedure to open or bypass a narrowed or blocked coronary artery) than those who took a statin alone.
More omega-6 fats, another essential fat, are consumed by the average American than omega-3 fats. There is no evidence in humans to support the hypothesis that this increased intake of omega-6 fats could pose problems, cardiovascular or otherwise. (4) In the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, for example, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats wasn’t linked with risk of heart disease because both of these were beneficial. (5) Many other studies and trials in humans also support cardiovascular benefits of omega-6 fats. There’s no doubt that many Americans would benefit from upping their omega-3 fat consumption. However, there’s also evidence that omega-6 fats positively influence cardiovascular risk factors and reduce heart disease.
Grilled salmon on a stick To strike a different kind of equilibrium, scientists are analysing the potential effects of marine and plant omega-3 fats on prostate cancer. Men who consume a lot of EPA and DHA (typically from fish and seafood) have a lower risk of developing advanced prostate cancer, according to the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and other studies. However, high intakes of ALA have been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer and advanced prostate cancer in some but not all studies (6). (mainly from supplements). On the other hand, this effect is not reliable. No association between ALA consumption and early, late, or advanced prostate cancer was found in the massive Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial.
Try this tasty option for obtaining healthy omega-3 fatty acids: Salmon with minty snap peas is a great dish to try.
Fish and other seafood should be eaten once or twice weekly, with an emphasis on fatty (dark meat) fish that are higher in EPA and DHA due to their numerous health benefits. Women who are pregnant, or would like to become pregnant, and nursing mothers, should pay special attention to this. DHA is essential for the development of brain and nervous system from the third trimester through the second year of life. The evidence for harm from a lack of omega-3 fats is far more consistent, and a balance between benefit and risk is easily obtained, but many women avoid eating fish due to concerns that mercury and other possible contaminants might harm their babies (9). To read more about the debate surrounding mercury and other toxins in oily fish, visit.