Part 1: Omega-3 Fats

What’s so great about omega-3 fats?


Omega-3’s are “essential” to the body.  The word essential, in the dietary sense, means a nutrient is both necessary for human health AND the body cannot endogenously produce it.  Therefore, when a nutrient is essential, we need to ingest it through a dietary source if we want the benefits.

You want omega-3 essential fatty acids in your body on a daily basis for three reasons:

1. You will reduce bad cholesterol and increase the good

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase the HDL (good) cholesterol, which promotes optimal heart function and improves elasticity of the arteries.

2. You will have better memory

Omega-3’s are highly concentrated in the brain, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  Research has shown improvement in cognition (brain memory) with increased intake of DHA.1  This is because there are high concentrations of DHA in the gray matter of the brain, which is important in preserving brain cell membranes and transmitting signals.  By eating fish or taking a supplement, you are literally allowing your brain cells to communicate better.

3. You will balance omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in the body

It is necessary to create a balance in your diet of omega-3s and omega-6s (another essential fatty acid). We receive omega-6s through the majority of our food choices.  An imbalance (more omega-6:omega-3) promotes body inflammation, while omega-3s help to reduce this.

Dietary sources and supplements of each fatty acid will be offered in tomorrow’s post.

Sources:

1. Fotuhi M, Mohassel P, Yaffe K. Fish consumption, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and risk of cognitive decline or Alzheimer disease: a complex association. Nat Clin Pract Neurol. 2009 Mar;5(3):140-52. Review.

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