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  • 7 things you need to know about Omega-3 Fatty acids

    It seems that we have been conditioned to believe that fat is the end all, be all when it comes to unhealthy eating. However, there is such a thing as good fat and Omega-3 Fatty Acids are the best kind there are. Fat is an essential source of energy and an important part of the human diet. Essential fatty acids help support the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune, and nervous systems. The human body requires omega-3 fatty acids for membrane structural integrity and fluidity, enabling cells to obtain optimum nutrition and expel waste products. It only get better, research shows that two omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be important for proper visual development and retinal function – Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). If these seem like a mouthful, just read on for 7 more facts about Omega-3 Fatty acids.


    • Marine-sourced omega-3's are one of the most studied nutrients in the world. With all the benefits they have, I don’t see why not.

    • Omega-3's have an anti-inflammatory effect. DHA and EPA have been shown to be helpful in relieving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Benefits may increase with use of anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin.

    • DHA and EPA are found in fish, as opposed to ALA, a type of  Omega-3 fatty acid found in plants. The conversion rate of ALA to EPA/DHA is very low. According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, young men can convert 8% of ALA to EPA, and only 0-4% to DHA. Young women convert 21% of ALA to EPA, and 9% to DHA. The difference in these conversion rates is attributed to the higher levels of estrogen in women. However,  researchers still consider plant foods a beneficial source for omega-3’s despite the low conversion rates.

    • DHA plays important roles in the functioning of the brain and the eye. It supports healthy tear production and overall macular health. It is thought that it does this by promoting healthy blood vessel growth and circulation in the eyes. This means that fatty acids could help prevent eye ailments such as retinopathy, caused by an overgrowth of leaky blood vessels in the eyes, and age-related macular degeneration, caused by abnormal growth of blood vessels. Approximately 9 million people in the U.S. have age-related macular degeneration with 1.75 million having significant vision loss from the advanced form of the ailment, so these results on omega-3 fatty acids is good news.

    • Omega-3's are very important in child development and infant growth. According to an analysis of several studies conducted by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health and published in the journal Pediatrics, the authors found that healthy preterm infants who were fed DHA-supplemented formula showed significantly better visual acuity at 2 and 4 months of age, compared with similar preterm infants who were fed formula that did not contain the omega-3 supplement.

    • Omega-3's can also help reduce and treat dry eyes. In a study of more than 32,000 women between the ages of 45 and 84, those with the highest ratio of omega-6 fatty acids (Usually found in meat and fried foods) to omega-3 fatty acids in their diet (15 to 1) had a significantly greater risk of dry eye syndrome, compared with the women with the lowest ratio (less than 4 to 1). The study also found that the women who ate at least two servings of tuna per week had a significantly less risk of dry eye than women who ate one or fewer servings per week. In another study of dry eyes induced in mice, topical application of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA led to a significant decrease in dry eye signs and inflammation associated with dry eye.

    • Currently, there is no official Recommended Dietary Allowance for omega-3's But, according to the American Heart Association, research suggests daily intakes of DHA and EPA combined ranging from 500 milligrams (0.5 gram) to 1.8 grams (either from fish or fish oil supplements) significantly reduces cardiac risks. This equates to at least two servings of fatty fish a week. For ALA, daily intakes of 1.5 to 3 grams (g) seem to be beneficial.

    It couldn't hurt to get more omega-3’s in your diet. For ALA, flax-seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, tahini sauce, sesame seeds,  Kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and purslane are great sources. For DHA/EPA, wild salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines, albacore tuna, herring, or lake trout are good options. If fish isn't your thing, don’t fret, supplements are the best bet.





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