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Until few years ago, we were told to eat less fat, so that we could limit our calorie intake. But studies now suggest that you can get up to 35% of your calories from fat as long as you replace your bad fats with the good ones. In fact, the research is building up in favor of good fats, as proponents of the “paleo” or “hunter-gatherer” diet find more evidence to back their claims.
Omega-3 fatty acids come from the family of polyunsaturated fats that are not unhealthy; they are the “good” fats. Omega-3 fatty acids come in different forms. The Eicosapentaenoic Acid (or simply EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) which are found in fish have the strongest benefits. Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) is the other Omega-3 fatty acid found in leafy vegetables, flaxseeds, vegetable oils, walnuts etc.
Fatty acids and eyesight! You must be wondering why would your eyes would need fats? Well, fatty acids are critical for formation and functioning of cells, muscles and nerves. Studies show that Omega-3 offers a range of benefits in vision problems like dry eye and macular degeneration. Due to our meat-lead American diet, we have higher levels of Omega 6s than Omega-3s, which is why supplementation is a good idea.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids can work wonders for menopausal symptoms like menstrual cramps. Supplementing with Omega-3 helps symptoms like osteoporosis, hot flashes, mood swings, worsening memory, thinning hair, vaginal dryness etc.
The National Headache Foundation (NHF) reports that nearly 29.5 million Americans suffer from migraines. Adding Omega-3 to your diet helps reducing inflammation, which often aggravates migraine pains. The fatty acid has been proven to reduce the severity, frequency and duration of migraine pains.
Depression affects nearly 340 million people worldwide and sadly, more than half of these people do not receive a proper diagnosis. Studies suggest that increasing Omega-3 intake can boost brain function, reduce mood swings and aggressive behavior and increase attention span and retention of memories.
Our immune system is complex which is made up of different kinds of cells and organs that protect us from toxins and other oxidative processes that damage the cells. Omega-3 supplements help neutralize toxins in the body. They boost immunity and studies show that those who took the supplement had lesser incidence of colds and flu.
Inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis where the immune system attacks the body for unknown reasons are reported to improve remarkably with a daily supplementation of Omega-3.
If one choses a fish oil supplement they must make sure that it is mercury free and has at least 30% EPA or DHA. For the same immune-modulating reasons, Omega 3 fatty acids also help with other auto-immune diseases like:
Omega-3 fatty acids are fantastic for a healthy heart (reducing triglycerides, lowering blood pressure), brain, skin, hair, body and more. We may all want to consider adding fish oil to our daily supplementation regime or consume fatty fish at least twice a week. All in all, you can’t go wrong with this fantastic fat!
Please note: If consumed in excessively high doses, Omega-3 may cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal side effects. If you are on blood thinners, do tell your doctor about your Omega 3 consumption. Since Omega 3 works by make blood thinner to improve circulation, it may hamper blood clotting when combined with other blood thinners.