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As Editor and Reporter for Healthy-Oil-Planet.com, I've researched the health benefits of natural oils and tried to present you the most accurate and current information for enhancing your health with these products.
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Health Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
What exactly are omega 3 fatty acids and why are they good for you?
These types of fats are called polyunsaturated fats. One popular form of polyunsaturated fats is found in cooking oil such as olive oil.
While vegetable oils and margarine are high in polyunsaturated fats they don’t contain omega 3 fatty acids, also known as Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs).
These fatty acids are considered essential because they’re important building blocks for every cell in your body. Your body can’t produce these special fats so you must get them from your diet.
Three Main Types of Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
Alpha Linolenic acid (ALA) – found in flax seeds, walnuts, soy beans
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – found in fish and fish oils, and krill oils
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – found in fish and fish oils, krill oil
These 3 fatty acids help your body produce chemicals called eicosanoids which are hormone-like substances that can have a positive effect on your heart rate, lower high blood pressure and even help reduce high cholesterol.
Studies have also shown taking fish oil during pregnancy can lead to improvements in eye and hand coordination and enhancing retinal health in infants.
Health Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- Help control your blood pressure.
- Boost your immune system to help your body fight infections.
- Regulates your body’s temperature.
- Affects inflammation levels in your body.
- Prevent blood clots which may reduce your risk for stroke or heart attack.
- Reduce triglycerides levels in your blood lowering your risk for heart disease.
- Help improve mood and learning function in young children.
- May help boost your metabolism and burn fat more efficiently.
Even food manufacturers are starting to sit up and notice these health benefits. You can now buy infant formulas fortified with omega 3 fatty acids. It’s now pretty common to find yogurt and cheeses with omega 3’s added to them. And farmers are starting to feed their chickens a diet high in omega 3’s (from flaxseeds) to increase the omega 3 content in their eggs.
Are You Balanced in Omega 3 Fatty Acids?
It’s important to eat a balance of omega 3 fatty acid and omega 6 fatty acids in your diet.
Omega 6 fatty acids are also essential fatty acids, however, too much of them can promote inflammation in your body.
Scientists now believe maintaining a proper ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 is even more important for optimal health. This is similar to striving for a healthy ratio of LDL and HDL cholesterol for good heart health. Scientists claim that a healthy ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 should be 4:1.
Unfortunately, our Western diet of fast foods, processed foods, and cooking with vegetable oils could place our ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 as high as 30:1. Some nutritionists believe it should be a 1:1 ratio – equal parts omega 3 to omega 6.
Researchers believe this huge imbalance of omega 6 to omega 3 can cause a high number of inflammatory-type problems, such as asthma, cardiovascular disease and arthritis.
Time for an Oil Change…Fish Oil, that is!
Supplementing your diet with more omega 3 fatty acids can help enhance your health by optimizing your ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats.
Here’s how to increase your omega 3 intake:
- Eat more servings of fish, walnuts and soybeans.
- Reduce your consumption of vegetable oils and processed foods.
- Start taking pharmaceutical-grade fish oil supplements.
- Supplementing with krill oil.
- Use ground flaxseeds or flaxseed oil supplements
Eating mackerel, sardines, salmon and lake trout will give you a good source of omega 3’s. Haddock, cod and tuna also have omega 3 fatty acids at lower amounts.
If you’re concerned about mercury in fish you can use pharmaceutical-grade fish oils. These highly purified oils are free of mercury, PCB’s and other contaminants found in store bought fish.
And if you can’t eat fish or fish oils, you can use ground flaxseeds or flax oils. Flaxseeds supply alpha linolenic acid, another type of omega 3 fatty acid. Your body will take the alpha linolenic acid and convert it into EPA and DHA.
However, the conversion process from ALA to EPA and DHA isn’t exactly perfect. Research shows you can only convert about 6 – 8% EPA from ALA. If you’re not sure which oil to use, here’s some helpful information comparing fish oils vs. flaxseed oil.
Optimizing you intake of omega 3 fatty acids may have tremendous health benefits. The good thing is they’re 100% natural and offer you tremendous health benefits.
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