A Few Things You Should Know About Omega-3 Fats
Omega 3 fats are polyunsaturated fatty acids that cannot be produced by the body and therefore must be obtained from external sources. Research has shown that omega 3 fatty acids may help to prevent numerous diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, certain types of cancer and many others.
There are 3 types of important omega 3 fatty acids:
* Alpha linolenic acid (ALA)
* Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
* Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
EPA and DHA are the most beneficial ones. ALA is converted into EPA and DHA in the body. However, older people and people suffering from diabetes or schizophrenia may lack the ability to convert ALA into EPA and DHA. In these cases it's more advisable to obtain omega 3's from sources that are rich in EPA and DHA.
One of the richest sources of EPA and DHA is cold water fish, such as salmon, herring and mackerel. However, there is a also a risk associated with increased fish consumption due to poisoning from heavy metals and other contaminants such as PCB's and dioxins. For these reasons, the FDA recommends to limit the total dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish to 3 grams a day.
ALA can be obtained from flaxseed oil, walnuts and various plant sources.
Here are more sources of omega 3 fatty acids:
* Walnuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts and pecans
* Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli
* Sesame seeds and Tahini (this is a paste made out of sesame seeds)
* Soybeans - soybean oil
Recommended daily doses for omega 3's are: ~ 650 mg of EPA and DHA and 2.22 g of ALA - as published by the National Institutes of Health.
Omega 6 fats also belong to the group of essential fatty acids and both, omega 3's and omega 6's are necessary to keep your body healthy. However, it's important to provide both in the right ratio. Ideally, the ratio between omega 3 to omega 6 should be somewhere around 1 to 3 or 1 to 5.
Unfortunately, in typical "western diets" there is a massive overload of omega 6 and a lack of omega 3's. Ratios between omega 3's to omega 6's are as high as 1 to 50, which might be one of the causes for numerous diseases including arthritis, depression and cardiovascular diseases.
To reduce the risk of these diseases, make sure your diet contains sufficient amounts of foods rich in omega 3 fats and to reduce the consumption of saturated fats.
To give you an idea what omega 3 fats can do for you, below is a list of some of the numerous health benefits provided by omega 3's. These findings have been verified by thousands of scientific studies carried out over the last few decades.
Omega 3 fats can help to:
* Prevent cardiovascular diseases
* Reduce high blood pressure and lower cholesterol
* Provide lubrication to the skin, arteries, veins and intestinal tract
* Increase your energy level
* Prevent certain types of cancer - breast-, prostate- and colon cancer
* Improve constipation
* Provide better sleep
* Keep your blood from clotting excessively
* Maintain the fluidity of your cell membranes
* Inhibit thickening of the arteries
* Reduce the risk of becoming obese
* Reduce inflammation
* Improve muscle recovery from trauma
* Ease conditions like arthritis, joint pain, Alzheimer’s, depression and many other cognitively impaired situations
* Improve concentration
* Improve the healing capability for various other health problems
I guess, these should be enough good reasons to make omega-3's an integral part of your diet. In fact, you should increase your intake of omega 3 fats while decreasing your consumption of unhealthy saturated fats.
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