Omega 3 acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s). There are three types of essential fatty acids. DHA’s- docosahexaenoic acid in high levels are important for retinal health and proper brain functioning. EPA’s-eicosapentaenoic acid and ALA’s alpha-linolenic acid are essential fatty acids together with DHA’s are important building blocks for good health. They are essential fatty acids because they are necessary but the body cannot make its own. They must come from food sources.
Omega 6 is also an essential fatty acid however; it is overly present in most diets. Since Omega 3 acids are seriously lacking in the American/European diets, this creates an imbalance that can lead to heart problems, inflammatory conditions, eye problems, and reduced brain functioning.
The benefits of Omega 3 acids have been shown in research studies to possibly reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other health conditions. There are other studies that say the effect on these conditions is not shown to be of any significance. Supplementation with Omega 3 acids is a decision to be made in consultation with your health care providers to see if they would be an option for you.
Sources of Omega 3 acids are found in fish, plants, and meat. Omega 3 acids are also used as additives to foods to boost their health benefits. Let’s take a look at each source separately.
Fish sources of Omega 3 acids usually come from oils harvested from the body tissues of fatty fish. Eating fish such as Halibut, Snapper, Wild Salmon, and Shrimp will help to provide you with increased amounts of these fatty acids. Whiting, Mackerel, King Crab, Oysters, and Sardines will do this as well. Antarctic Krill are not only rich in Omega 3’s; they are rich in Antioxidants and phospholipids. Antioxidants protect cells from damage by free radicals while Phospholipids helps to maintain the proper function of cell membranes.
Plant sources of Omega 3 acids include both vegetables and fruit. Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Tofu (soy protein) are excellent sources of Omega 3’s. Flax, flax seeds, and flax seed oils are high in Omega 3’s as well. Pumpkin and Sesame seeds, and Walnuts provide these fatty acids as well. Meat sources currently are limited to pastured animals such as grass fed beef. Omega 3 supplements, a reduction in the consumption of Omega 6, and exercise are all building blocks to good health.
Omega 3 Acids while a health benefit for most may be dangerous for others. Omega 3’s help keep platelets from clumping and sticking together to clog the arteries. Anyone, then, who takes prescribed blood thinners or may have blood disorders should check with their physicians. A combination of these two treatments could induce excessive bleeding if injured or if you have surgery. It is always safest to consult your doctor on such matters.