Omega-3 fatty acids are known as an essential fatty acid because they cannot be produced by the body itself and yet are very necessary for the health of the body. The only way to obtain the Omega-3 fatty acids is through diet. Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids are flaxseed, walnuts, almonds, and fish.
Three Major Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids come in three different types: alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid. These three types work together in the body to help give it what it needs and keep it healthy. First the body absorbs the alpha-linolenic acid and then turns it into eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. These two later acids play major roles in human health.
Prevention of Heart Disease
It is suggested by the American Heart Association that Omega-3 fatty acids, obtained through food consumption or supplement, be a priority in maintaining heart health. By taking Omega-3, the heart has less stress put on it which, in turn, reduces high blood pressure.
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL). People who had already had heart attacks and then began taking Omega-3 supplements, or implemented the Omega-3 into their diet, were found to have a 30 percent less chance of having another heart attack.
A protein that has been linked to Alzheimer's disease has been shown to be greatly reduced by Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is an excellent brain-food and has been shown to greatly reduce, or prevent, depression and memory loss.
Chronic inflammation, which has been linked to serious diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancers, autoimmune diseases, aging skin, and even hemorrhoids, has been proven to be greatly reduced by the inclusion of Omega-3 fatty acids as well.
How Much Omega-3 Do We Need?
It may surprise you to know that the amount of Omega-3 needed to give us the health benefits that it offers is quite small. Doctors recommend eating fish (salmon, tuna, halibut) twice a week. If you do not like fish then you can get Omega-3 from walnuts (1/4 cup three times a week), almonds (1/4 cup three times a week), flaxseed (can be sprinkled over cereals or yogurt), or a dietary supplement.