What Is Omega 3?
Fish rich in Omega 3
Have you ever wondered...what is omega 3 and how can it help me? It is very likely that you've heard of omega 3 but you're still a little confused...so lets take a simple and straight forward look at these very important dietary nutrients.
Omega 3's are very specific categories of fats. Now, you've probably heard the 'blanket' recommendation regarding being conservative with your fat intake. This recommendation is not entirely correct but is put forward by certain government and health authorities because they want to simplify the message about excessive fat intake in the typical western diet.
While some fats should be limited to small and certainly no more than moderate quantities...such as saturated fats of animal origin, omega 3 oils should not be on your list of fats to reduce or eliminate from your diet.
What is omega 3 on a scale of 1-10 of important nutrients?
Omega 3 oils would be a definite 10!
Omega 3 fatty acids as they are more correctly known are a type of polyunsaturated fat. The term polyunsaturated defines their chemical structure and tells you that they will be liquid at room temperature and under refrigeration.
While a number of polyunsaturated fats fit into this category...such as typical vegetable oils, omega 3's are a very unique type of polyunsaturated fat.
There are three main components of fish oil that collectively make up Omega 3.Docosahexaenoic Acid -DHA Eicosapentaenoic Acid -EPADocosapentaenoic Acid -DPA
The '3' in Omega 3 doesn't refer to these separate components as a group, but to a particular aspect of the chemical structure that they all share.
Each of these three omega fats interacts with your body physiology in a specific way, DHA and EPA having the most scientific research backing their importance in human health. Currently, not a great deal is known about DPA's contribution to the health benefit equation. Seal oil, a component of Inuit diet is rich in DPA.
What about Alpha-Linolenic Acid ? - (ALA or LNA). ALA is present in certain plant based foods such as the oil from flax seeds, some nuts such as walnuts and tofu from soybeans, and is used as a precursor molecule in your body.
It is currently unclear whether ALA has specific physiological functions apart from helping your body make EPA and DHA from available plant sourced ALA. Unfortunately, this is a very inefficient process, the conversion to DHA for example from a quantity of ALA is in the region of 2%. Your body requires much higher levels of DHA and EPA on a daily basis
Both EPA and DHA can be delivered directly to you from your diet as present in certain types of fish oil. They are immediately available to you for metabolization in this form...no conversion required.
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what is omega 3 able to accomplish in your body?
As nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids have been the subject of extensive research over several decades yielding thousands of papers published in the scientific literature.
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While the benefits cited are many and varied...right across the spectrum of health, lets just zero in for now on four key reasons why your heart would thank you for including a rich source of daily Omega 3 in your diet.
Research has confirmed that omega-3 fatty acids are associated with...a decrease in your triglyceride levelsa decrease in the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque - hardening of the arteriesa small decrease in blood pressure a decrease in the risk of arrhythmias - unusual heart rhythms which can lead to sudden cardiac death
It has long been recognized by researchers that Greenland Eskimos who consume their typical diet rich in omega 3 fats have significantly reduced rates of acute myocardial infarction (MI or heart attack) compared with those who consume a typical Western diet.
So, what is omega 3 doing absent from your diet?
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