Health and Lifestyle for the over 50s

What You Need to Know About Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Posted by The Best of Health
Categories: Arthritis / Health and Wellbeing /

omega-3 salmon nutsOmega-3 fatty acids have gained a lot of publicity as an increasing number of studies link them to various impressive health benefits. Do you know the facts about omega-3s and why they’re important for your health? Here’s what you need to know.

What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of healthy, unsaturated fats. There are three different types – ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Your body needs these fatty acids to function properly but it cannot produce them on its own, so they must be consumed.

What are the Benefits of Omega-3s?

Omega-3s are great for both your physical and mental health as they have a number of positive effects on the body. Here are some of their many benefits:

  • They lower your triglyceride (blood fat) levels, improving your cholesterol and reducing your risk of heart disease.
  • They improve your joint health and reduce the stiffness and tenderness caused by arthritis or osteoporosis.
  • They reduce inflammation in the body, which means they help with illnesses or conditions where inflammation is a key component, such as asthma or Crohn’s disease.
  • They seem to lower your risk of depression, as research has shown that depression is less common in cultures where omega-3s play a more significant role in diets.
  • Some research suggests that omega-3s may help to prevent memory loss and protect against dementia.

If you would like to find out more, listen to Dr Chris talking about this subject on the video below.

What are the Best Sources of Omega-3s?

Omega-3 fatty acids are primarily found in certain types of fish – usually oily fish. This is where you get EPA and DHA from. Good sources include:

  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Lake trout
  • Tuna

While regularly eating fish is the best way to get the omega-3s you need, it’s not the only way. ALA is found in nuts and seeds, including:

  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseed and flaxseed oil
  • Canola or rapeseed oil
  • Soybean oil.

It’s always best to get the nutrients you need from your diet rather than from supplements if you can. However, people with certain health conditions or dietary requirements may be advised to take omega-3 supplements by their doctor.

You should aim to eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids two to three times a week. While it’s great to up your omega-3 intake with nuts and oils too, these are best eaten in moderation because they can be high in calories. As long you stick to a healthy balanced diet, you should get all of the omega-3s you need to keep your body functioning healthily.

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