Many studies praise the benefits of the essential fatty acid known as Omega 3. Sourced from fish oil, Omega 3 has been shown to help achieve optimal immune health, reduce inflammation and even help reduce body fat. Here we take a look at the reasons you should be including it in your diet and the benefits it can provide.
Firstly Omega 3 is known as an essential fatty acid. This is very different to regular fat because put simply our bodies cannot make essential fatty acids (EFA’s) on their own, so they must come from our diets (hence the word ‘essential’). What’s more, both forms of EFA’s (Omega 3 and Omega 6) are found in the membranes of every cell in our bodies, which is one of the reasons that supplementing your diet with them provides so many health benefits. They can be found naturally in foods (as seen below):
Omega 3 Sources
- Hempseed oil
- Canola oil
- Pumpkin seeds
Omega 6 Sources
- Borage oil
- Evening primrose oil (EPO)
- Sunflower oil
- Safflower oil
- Corn oil
- Canola oil
However most people don’t have time to prepare an amazing fish based dinner 3 times a week and, what’s more, another consideration is the dosage, since the American Heart Association recommends consuming 1-3 grams per day of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) for certain medical conditions (EPA and DHA are the long chain fatty acids that make up omega 3). This would be hard to get from your diet alone. That’s why more people are looking to include Omega 3 specific supplements in their diet such as Omega 3, since they are purer forms of this essential fatty acid with a far better EPA and DHA content. So now you know what it is and where it naturally occurs, what benefits can it have for you? Well the answer is perhaps too many to include in just this article, however below we’ve listed some of the best potential effects.
Omega 3 and the immune system
Firstly it’s important to explain a bit about the immune system (known as the lymph system). It’s essentially a highly complex system of organs (lymph nodes) and cells (lymphocytes) that work together to seek and destroy anything ‘foreign’ that enters the body (such as bad bacteria or a virus.) These lymph nodes are housed strategically throughout the body and serve as the checkpoint for fluids that carry the lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are cells that patrol the body for potential threats in the form of bacteria, virus and fungi and without becoming too in-depth, they can be classed as T-cells or B-cells. This is where Omega 3 supplementation comes in, since various studies have shown that supplementing the diet with Omega 3 can greatly increase the activation and number of T-cells within the body, and therefore the ability to fight disease.
Omega 3 and Diabetes
The Medical Center at the University of Maryland has also found that Omega 3 can help people with diabetes. The fatty acids from fish oil can lower the amount of triglycerides (fat in the bloodstream). It also lowers the body’s amount of a poproteins, which are markers for diabetes.
Omega 3 and Autoimmune Diseases
Omega 3 has anti-inflammatory properties.This fatty acid can help slow down the effects of auto immune diseases like arthritis and lupus by reducing joint pain and swelling.
Omega 3 and Heart Health
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, clinical evidence shows that Omega 3 can help to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke by raising the levels of good cholesterol, or HDL. The good cholesterol lowers the amount of fat in the blood.
Omega 3 and living longer
Perhaps longevity is the ultimate Omega 3 benefit to reap. Researcher Jorn Dyerberg, known throughout the world for his pioneering work on Omega 3, was the first to note the virtual absence of heart disease among Greenland’s indigenous people. Attributing this directly to their high dietary Omega 3 content, Dyerberg believes that the net effect of lowering the number of heart beats over a lifetime is a heart that beats longer, in otherwords, a longer lifespan. More research is called for, but studies suggest that DHA is the principal Omega 3 fatty acid responsible for lowering heart rate and improving resilience of heart rate variability, which together lower risk of deadly sudden cardiac events significantly.
Hopefully this article has opened your eyes as to the many benefits supplementing your diet with Omega 3 can bring, whether it’s warding off the common cold during the winter months or helping you to live longer.
Supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any medications, please consult a doctor before use.Discontinue use and consult a doctor if adverse reactions occur.