If you didn’t know already, omega-3 fatty acids are wildly important. They have so many powerful and healthy benefits for our bodies and brains, and even more, they’re an essential piece in the structure of our cell wall.
They represent a natural energy source and enhance the good functioning of our heart, lungs, blood vessels, and immune system. There are two crucial ones — EPA and DHA, which can be primarily found in certain fish.
On the other hand, the well-known ALA, or alpha-linolenic acid, can be found in plant sources such as nuts and seeds. There are only a couple of nutrients studied as omega-3 fatty acids. Since we know so much about them, let’s discuss some science-based health benefits of these nutrients:
Omega-3s are an ally against depression and anxiety
Only recently did we start accepting depression as one of the most damaging mental illnesses in the world. Some of its most known symptoms are sadness, lethargy, and a general loss of interest in life. It’s easy to mistake it with anxiety, which is also another common disorder, which is characterized by constant worry and nervousness.
Luckily, there are studies that show how people who consume omega-3s on a daily basis are less likely to feel depressed. And for those people who already suffer from these disorders, their symptoms improved significantly after starting to take omega-3 supplements. Out of the three types of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA is supposedly the best against these diseases.
Omega-3s improve eye health
DHA is a type of omega-3, but ALSO a major structural component of the retina in your eye. When you don’t have enough DHA, you might start having problems with your vision. The link between these two is extremely interesting, as getting enough omega-3 nutrients actually reduces the risk of macular degeneration, which is one of the world’s major causes of permanent eye damage and blindness.
One study proved that people that had the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids were 30% less likely to develop any macular degeneration, compared to their peers. Also, omega-3 fatty acids were proved to be extremely helpful against high eye pressure, which is oftentimes the main cause of glaucoma.
Omega-3s promote brain health during pregnancy and even early life
Omega-3s are crucial for brain growth and development in infants. DHA accounts for 40% of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in the brain and 60% in the retina of the eye. So the fact that infants that are fed with a DHA-fortified formula have better eyesight than those who are fed with a regular formula won’t come as a surprise for anyone.
It is highly recommended for pregnant women to get enough omega-3s fatty acids during their pregnancy, as it has various benefits for the child, such as:
- higher intelligence
- better communication and social skills
- fewer behavioral problems
- decreased risk of developmental delay
- decreased risk of ADHD
Omega-3s improve risk factors for heart disease
As you well know, heart attacks and strokes are frequent causes of death throughout the world. Only in the 20th century, researchers started to notice that fish-eating communities had lower rates of these diseases, which raised a couple of questions.
How did these communities manage to live better than the rest of us? Well, they later found out the answer: they were eating more omega-3s. Since then, omega-3 fatty acids have been directly linked to numerous benefits for heart health, such as:
- a major reduction in triglycerides
- reduced blood pressure
- a better level of HDL cholesterol
- fewer blood clots
- prevents the plaque that can restrict and harden your arteries
- reduced inflammation
Omega-3s reduce symptoms of ADHD in children
ADHD, also known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a behavioral disorder that’s characterized by the inability to be focused, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. There are many studies that noticed how children with ADHD have lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids than their healthier peers.
Even more, there are many studies that showed how omega-3 supplements can significantly reduce the symptoms of ADHD. So, we can safely say that omega-3s can improve inattention and task completion.
Also, they’re known to decrease hyperactivity, impulsiveness, restlessness, and aggression. In fact, so far, fish oil supplements have been proved to be one of the most promising treatments against ADHD.
Omega-3s reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome
If it’s the first time you’ve ever heard about this, metabolic syndrome is not a disease, but more like a collection of conditions. First of all, it includes central obesity, which is also known as belly fat, alongside high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high triglycerides, and low “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
While it is a major public concern, it’s oftentimes ignored or kept out of the spotlight, given the fact that it represents the result of everything that is wrong with the food industry nowadays. The thing is, suffering from metabolic syndrome increases the risk of other illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Luckily, omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to be good against all the elements of metabolic syndrome’s spectrum: insulin resistance, inflammation, and heart disease risk factors.
Omega-3s fight inflammation
Inflammation is the natural response to infections and damage to our bodies. In conclusion, it’s vital for your health. Even so, inflammation can sometimes stay in the body more than it initially had to, and sometimes it doesn’t even need an infection or injury to be present.
When this happens, it’s called chronic or long-term inflammation. Long-term inflammation is known to contribute to most chronic Western illnesses, like heart disease and cancer. The fact that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the production of molecules and substances linked to them in such great amounts is absolutely astonishing.
In fact, there are several studies that proved the connection between higher omega-3 intake and reduced inflammation.
Omega-3s fight autoimmune diseases
When it comes to autoimmune diseases, your immune system basically attacks healthy cells as if they would be foreign cells, because it can’t tell the difference between the two anymore. Type 1 diabetes is a good example because, in this case, the immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas.
Omega-3s can represent a great ally against some of these diseases. Even more, omega-3s consumption in early life has been proved to be essential in this matter. There are studies that focused on the consumption of omega-3s in the first year of your life, and the results were amazing: there’s a reduced risk of most autoimmune diseases, like type 1 diabetes, autoimmune diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.
Omega-3s fight age-related mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease
A decline in brain function is probably one of the least desired consequences of aging. Luckily, there are studies that linked higher omega-3 intake to decreased mental decline and even a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease!
In fact, there’s one review that shows how omega-3 supplements are beneficial at disease onset when the symptoms of AD are still incipient. Even though these studies and reviews are extremely promising and encouraging, there are still several tests that need to be done before we can all conclude that omega-3s are essential in maintaining proper brain health.
Omega-3s help prevent cancer
Nowadays, cancer is definitely one of the biggest threats to our lives. Even more, it is one of the leading causes of death in Western society. Fortunately, omega-3 fatty acids have been proved to be extremely helpful in reducing the risk of certain cancers.
There are interesting studies that show how people who consume omega-3s on a daily basis have up to a 55% lower risk of developing colon cancer. Even more, omega-3 consumption is believed to help reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men, and breast cancer in women.
Unfortunately, not all studies had the same results. But the future might be brighter with these nutrients when it comes to cancer.
Omega-3s fatty acids are great for our sleep
Good sleep is absolutely essential to good health. Studies tend to link sleep deprivation to many diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, and depression. And because we’re talking about a chain reaction, if sleep deprivation is linked to the development of these diseases, low levels of omega-3 fatty acids are linked to sleeping problems in kids, and obstructive sleep apnea in adults.
Plus, low levels of DHA are connected to lower levels of the hormone “melatonin”, which is responsible for helping you fall asleep. If you have problems with falling asleep or you suffer from insomnia, try adding supplements of omega-3 fatty acids to your daily diet.
What do you think about all the benefits we get from consuming Omega-3 fatty acids? Do you regularly include this amazing nutrient in YOUR diet? Let us know what you think in the comments section down below!
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