How Does Omega-3 Affect Your Health?

  1. Benefits

    • Omega-3 fatty acids are found in the oils of fish and some nuts and seeds. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is evidence that omega-3 acids are beneficial to health because they cut down on triglycerides. By doing so, omega-3 fatty acids lower your risk of heart disease and stroke by preventing the buildup of plaque in the arteries and lowering blood pressure. There are three different types of omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which are commonly found in fish, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in flaxseed, canola and olive oils as well as in walnuts.

    Sources

    • As with any treatment, talk to your doctor before you begin adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Some types of omega-3 fatty acids are more efficacious for different issues. For example, although the Mayo Clinic has conducted multiple human trials that omega-3 fatty acids slightly lowers blood pressure, DHA is more likely to do so than the other two types. Benefits also depend on the proper dosing of these fatty acids. According to the American Heart Association, healthy adults who have never had heart issues should eat fish at least twice per week. Fatty fish is a better source of omega-3 fatty acids than those with more lean meat. These include anchovies, catfish, halibut, mackerel, salmon and tuna. If you are a vegetarian or dislike fish, you can also get omega-3 fatty acids from eating tofu, walnuts, flaxseed or canola oil. You can also buy fish oil and flaxseed oil in capsule form.

    Safety

    • According to the Mayo Clinic, the Food and Drug Administration considers up to 3 g of omega-3 fatty acids per day to be safe. If taken in large quantities, these fatty acids may increase your risk of bleeding, although this is very rare. If it does happen, bleeding could occur from your nose or appear in your urine. The Mayo Clinic also suggests people with diabetes discuss the risk of taking omega-3 fatty acids with their doctor, since they can elevate blood sugar. One common complaint in people who take omega-3 fatty acids is gastrointestinal issues. Although the most common symptom is discomfort, omega-3 fatty acids can cause diarrhea, excessive gas, bloating and indigestion.

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