When it comes to fats, there’s one type that you don’t want to cut back on, omega-3 essential fatty acids. Not only does your body need these fatty acids to function, but also they are essential for good health, yet eating enough of the right foods to get the amounts you need can be difficult. They are critical for cell structure and function and can help to produce hormones to regulate blood and artery health.
Lowers Heart Disease Risk
There is a great deal of evidence for the heart-protective effect of omega-3 that shows that it can significantly reduce the risk of a second cardiovascular event in people who’ve had a heart attack, and have also been demonstrated to lower triglycerides, a blood-based fat or lipid, too much of which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Essential fatty acids can play a crucial role in cognitive performance and memory, and some studies have shown that omega-3’s can benefit the developing brain in children.
Improves Joint Mobility
A review of studies of the effect of omega-3’s in people with rheumatoid arthritis found that it enhanced joint mobility, where supplements can curb stiffness and joint pain. Omega-3 supplements also seem to boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.
Supports Mental Function
Clinical trials have even found it can help with depression, where researchers have found that cultures that eat foods with high levels of omega-3s have lower levels of depression. Omega-3 also seems to boost the effects of antidepressants and may help the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder. Some studies have shown that omega-3 can reduce the symptoms of ADHD in some children, and can even improve their mental skills, but more research is needed, however, omega-3 supplements are most useful as a secondary treatment.
Your body can’t produce omega-3s, so you need to get them from other sources, but where possible, get as much of your omega-3 fatty acids from foods rather than supplements. Eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids at least two to three times a week. Good sources include anchovies, sardines, trout, mackerel, salmon and tuna. Plant sources include walnuts and flaxseeds. The recommended dosage is suggested to be in the region of about 800-1500mg per day. With supplements, research where the product has been sourced – higher quality products use oil obtained from fish from deeper waters, meaning they’re less likely to contain toxins or impurities.
Omega-3s are safe for most people to take, but pregnant women and those on blood-thinning medications should avoid them.