What Are the Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for our health. However, omega-3 fatty acids are a form of fat that the human body does not produce on its own. Unfortunately, despite their significance, most people do not consume enough omega-3 fatty acids in the western world. The only way to provide our bodies with the Omega-3 fatty acids it needs is through the foods we consume. In this article, we will discuss what Omega-3 fatty acids are, what different types there are as well as the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids, and some of the best food sources.

Table of Contents

What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a form of polyunsaturated fat – sometimes called a “healthy fat” – which has potential protection against several serious conditions such as heart disease and dementia. These are important building blocks for cell membranes and are a subject that continues to attract interest from scientists.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the construction of all cell membrane walls. Omega3s also provide you energy and help your heart, lungs, blood vessels, and immune system work properly.

So not only does your body need Omega-3 fatty acids to survive, but it also grants some great health benefits.

Types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

There are 11 types of Omega-3s, among those 11 types, the 3 most important ones that we will be discussing are ALA, DHA, and EPA.

ALA, or alpha-linolenic acid, is mostly found in plants, particularly seeds and nuts. The most prevalent omega-3, ALA, is a necessary fatty acid that is transformed into EPA and DHA, although not very efficiently by the human body. ALA is very important for vegans and vegetarians.

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) fatty acids are found primarily in grass-fed animals (dairy and meat), fatty fish, algae, fish oil supplements, and other dietary supplements. DHA levels are highest in sperm cells, the eye specifically the retina, as well as the brain. DHA and EPA are often dubbed the “marine omega-3”.

polyunsaturated fatty acids

8 Other Types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The most abundant forms of omega-3 fatty acids in most of our diets is DHA, EPA, and ALA however there are 8 other types we are aware of. They are:

  1. DPA – docosapentaenoic acid
  2. ETE – eicosatrienoic acid
  3. HTA – hexadecatrienoic acid
  4. ETA – eicosatetraenoic acid
  5. HPA – heneicosapentaenoic acid
  6. Tetracosapentaenoic acid
  7. SDA – stearidonic acid
  8. Tetracosahexaenoic acid

Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

lower blood pressure
Omega-3 fatty acids are great for fighting cardiovascular and heart disease as well as the health of the cardiovascular system and heart itself. However, this is just one benefit listed below are many more benefits.

Important for Neurological and Visual Development in Infants and Children

Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for optimal neurological and visual development in the womb and during early childhood beginning from infancy until about 6 years of age. DHA is also the prominent omega-3 fatty acid used in the creation of cell membranes in the brain.

Getting adequate omega-3s when pregnant has a number of advantages for your child. This includes better communication and social skills as well as fewer behavioral problems and higher intelligence. There also seems to be some links with decreased risks of ADHD, autism, cerebral palsy, and well as a decreased risk of developmental delay.

Protects and Promotes Eye Health

The predominant fatty acid that makes up the retina of the eye is DHA omega-3.  To maintain healthy eye formation in the developing fetus and newborn infant, DHA is required during pregnancy and lactation.

DHA remains vital for eye health throughout your life. According to research, sufficient omega-3 fatty acids can help minimize the incidence of eye issues such as age-related macular degeneration. (loss of central vision).

Omega-3s Could Help Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease

heart disease

Heart disease is one of the main causes of mortality in the Western world, particularly in the United States. In fact, heart attacks and strokes are the leading killers in the world.

Omega-3s may assist individuals in improving crucial aspects of heart health and reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease. Omega-3s may help with reducing blood pressure, lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, and raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. For reference, LDL is considered “bad cholesterol”, while HDL is considered “good cholesterol”.

It is also believed that Omega-3s may also reduce plaque buildup in the arteries, reduce blood clots, and lower triglyceride levels.

Triglycerides are important for metabolism, which is the mechanism through which your body turns food and drink into fuel. Calories that aren’t utilized immediately away are retained as triglycerides in fat cells, where they can be used later when energy is required. When more of these fats accumulate in the blood than are metabolized, high triglyceride levels result.

High triglyceride levels can lead to hypertriglyceridemia which itself can lead to serious health issues, such as heart disease and stroke.

May Help Alleviate Cancer Treatment Side Effects

Inflammation contributes to tumor formation and cancer therapy side effects. The evidence on whether omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent malignancies like prostate cancer is divided.

However, a 2013 study found that using omega-3 supplements during chemotherapy may enhance patient outcomes by lowering inflammation and chemotherapy adverse effects.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help Reduce Inflammation

Omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce inflammation, according to research. When omega-3s are broken down by the body, anti-inflammatory chemicals and antioxidants are produced. As a result, it aids in the reduction of inflammation and improves the protection of cells.

Inflammation is thought to have a role in the development of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, certain cancers, as well as diabetes to name a few. As a result, lowering your risk of many chronic illnesses and associated symptoms may be as simple as reducing inflammation.

Rheumatoid arthritis produces stiffness and joint discomfort, and fish oil supplements (EPA+DHA) may help to alleviate this. Anti-inflammatory medicines appear to work better when omega-3s are present as well.

Omega-3s May Reduce Liver Fat

NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) is more frequent in the Western world than you may realize. It has become the most frequent cause of chronic liver diseases in the Western world as a result of the increase in obesity.

Augmenting with omega-3 fatty acids, on the other hand, effectively lowers liver fat and inflammation in NAFLD patients.

May Help Reverse the Symptoms and Progression of Autoimmune and Inflammatory Diseases

Chronic inflammation can cause or exacerbate several autoimmune disorders. Reduced inflammation may aid in symptom management and disease progression. The immunological response to infection, illness and bodily injury often includes inflammation.

Autoimmune disorders lead the immune system to misidentify healthy cells as abnormalities and begins to target them, resulting in inflammation. According to research, omega-3 fatty acids may help reverse the course of autoimmune and inflammatory disorders such as those mentioned below.

  • MS -Multiple Sclerosis
  • Lupus
  • Arthritis (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

Omega-3s May Improve Bone and Joint Health

There are a variety of disorders that can affect your skeletal system, but two of the most common are osteoporosis and arthritis. Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by weak and brittle bones, while arthritis is a general term for conditions that cause pain and inflammation in the joints. Fortunately, there is some evidence that omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial for both conditions.

Omega-3s have been shown in studies to promote bone strength by increasing calcium levels in the bones, lowering the risk of osteoporosis. Omega-3s may also help with arthritic symptoms. Omega-3 supplements have been shown to alleviate joint discomfort and improve grip strength in patients. Omega-3 fatty acids may offer a potential natural therapy for both osteoporosis and arthritis, while further study is needed to validate these effects.

Combat Menstrual Pain with Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Menstrual pain and discomfort usually begins in the lower abdominal area and pelvis and then spreads to the lower back and thighs. This pain can have a substantial impact on one’s quality of life.

Women who ingest the most omega-3s, on the other hand, experience reduced menstruation discomfort, according to research. In one trial, omega-3 supplements were shown to be more helpful than ibuprofen in alleviating severe menstrual discomfort.

Omega-3 Fats Keep Skin Healthy

DHA is an important component of your skin’s structure. It maintains the healthiness of cellular membranes, which make up a significant portion of your skin. Soft, moisturized, elastic, wrinkle-free skin is the product of a healthy cell membrane. Omega-3 EPA is also good for your skin in other ways.

Omega 3 fatty acids help manage the hydration and oil production of our skin, and they also reduce the risk of acne.

Omega-3s may also help to protect your skin from the sun. After sun exposure, EPA helps to prevent the production of compounds that destroy the connective tissue in your skin.

Lastly, omega 3 fatty acids also help reduce the risk factors of the premature aging of the skin.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help Reduce Asthma in Children

Coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing are all signs of asthma, a chronic lung illness.

Asthma episodes may be quite harmful. Inflammation and swelling in the airways of your lungs cause them. Furthermore, asthmatic rates in the United States have been growing for decades.

Several studies have linked omega-3 intake to a reduced risk of the disease in children and adolescents.

Omega-3s Could Help Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia

Unfortunately, brain health changes and cognitive impairment are frequent consequences of aging. Nonetheless, some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may safeguard brain function as we age and reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

According to one comprehensive study, omega-3 supplementation may aid in improving cognitive function in persons with milder Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Reduce Anxiety & Depression Symptoms

Depression is one of the world’s most prevalent mental illnesses. Sadness, apathy, and a general lack of zest for life are all signs. Constant concern and uneasiness define anxiety, which is also a frequent condition.

Omega-3 fatty acids may help safeguard your brain health by decreasing the chances of certain mental health problems such as schizophrenia and depression. A 2019 study discovered that omega-3 supplements containing EPAs reduced symptoms of depression.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Improve the Length and Quality of Sleep

Sleep deprivation has been linked to a wide range of disorders, including obesity, diabetes, anxiety, and depression, according to research.

Sleep disorders in childhood and obstructive sleep apnea in adulthood are linked to low levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Low amounts of DHA have also been associated with decreased levels of melatonin, a hormone that facilitates sleep. Omega-3 dietary supplements boost the duration and quality of sleep in both children and adults, according to research.

Omega-3s May Alleviate Symptoms of ADHD in Children

Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are characteristics of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Children with ADHD had lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids than their healthy classmates, according to several studies. Furthermore, multiple research shows that omega-3 supplementation can help with ADHD symptoms.

Omega-3 fatty acids can aid with inattention and work completion. Hyperactivity, impulsivity, restlessness, and hostility are also reduced.

hemp hearts omega 3

Hemp Seeds Are Nutritious and an Excellent Source of Omega-3

Hemp seeds, while technically a nut, are high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and are a good source of both. Hemp hearts are hemp seeds with the outer shell removed and they tend to have a mild, nutty taste.

Hemp seeds contain over 30% fat. They are exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA omega-3). These fatty acids are involved in many biochemical processes, including inflammation and skin health. ALA is also the precursor to EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fatty acids that have been linked to several health benefits. In addition, hemp seeds contain gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which has been shown to play a role in hormone balance and healthy skin and hair.

With such a nutrient-rich profile, it’s no wonder that hemp seeds have been traditionally used for medicinal purposes. Today, they are gaining popularity as a health food due to their high protein content, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Hemp hearts can be enjoyed raw, cooked, or roasted, and are a great addition to any diet.

How to Add Omega-3 to Your Diet

People can usually satisfy their nutritional demands by eating a well-balanced diet. However, meeting the daily nutritional intake might be challenging at times owing to eating choices, access to food, or how the body absorbs nutrients. The same is true for Omega-3 fatty acid consumption. The western diet also lacks quite a bit of well-rounded nutrition.

There are many foods rich in Omega-3s, both plant-based, and animal-based.

The following plant-based foods are high in Omega-3:

The following Fatty Fishes are also loaded with Omega-3s:

  • Salmon
  • Oysters
  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Shrimp
  • Blue Fish
  • Mackerel
fatty fish oil

What About Omega-3 Supplements Such as Fatty Fish Oil Supplements?

If you’re concerned about getting enough omega-3s, talk to your doctor. They may recommend that you take a dietary supplement to increase your omega-3 levels. Your doctor can help you choose how much to consume and address any potential side effects.

If you are on medications or suffer from health issues ALWAYS consult your doctor before taking any Omega-3 supplements. Be smart, be safe, and be educated!

Omega-3 supplements, for example, have been known to interfere with blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin), and excessive dosages have been linked to an increased risk of bleeding or even strokes.

Before buying a dietary supplement, do some research about the brand. As supplements are not regulated as medications by the FDA, their quality, ingredients, and efficacy are not evaluated.

Conclusion - The Benefits of Omega-3s

blood pressure

Omega-3 fatty acids are nutrients that can be found in foods or supplements. DHA, EPA, and ALA are the 3 types of omega-3s. Omega-3s may help to safeguard heart health, cognitive function, and eye health, as well as reduce the risk of several chronic illnesses.

Fatty fish, hemp seed hearts, walnuts, flaxseed, and algae are all good sources of omega-3s. Omega-3 dietary supplements are able to assist in meeting omega-3 requirements. Before taking a new supplement, talk to your doctor about the possible advantages and hazards of omega-3s.

Hemp&fork Hemp Hearts - Eat Food That Matters!
One of our pillars here at Hemp&fork is to promote a healthy environment that starts with our diets. This is why we CHOOSE to source our hemp directly from farmers in the United States who use sustainable practices. Please help us support farmers in transitioning to organic sustainable farming processes as well as creating a better world for our loved ones and future generations.
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