Fish oil is the common term for Omega-3 fatty acids or Omega fish oil, which is well-known for its benefits in heart health. There are many other benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acid is part of a family of polyunsaturated fatty acids considered as essential fatty acids. Essential means they are necessary for human health but the body cannot make them. So, we have to get them from food or supplements.

What are the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids?

1) Heart Disease

Omega-3 fatty acids prevent atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) by slowing the development of plaque and blood clot. At least 2 servings of fish a week can reduce the risk of stroke by 50%.

2) Cholesterol

Omega-3 increases HDL (good cholesterol) and reduces triglycerides. People who are on cholesterol lowering drugs such as Liptor, Mevacor or Zocor, taking Omega-3 can help the drugs to work more effectively. See earlier post on how to lower cholesterol.

3) Blood Pressure

Taking 3 g of fish oil daily can reduce blood pressure. See earlier post on how to lower blood pressure

4) Brain Function

Omega-3 fatty acids plays a crucial role in the brain memory and performance. It is also important for normal growth and development of the brain.

5) Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Omega-3 helps to reduce inflammation. It was found to help reduce the symptoms of RA such as joint pain and morning stiffness. People with RA who take fish oil can reduce the dose of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

6) Osteoporosis

Omega-3 can increase the level of calcium in the body and improve bone strength.

7) Attention Deficit Syndrome (ADHD)

Children with ADHD and behaviour problems may be deficient in certain essential fatty acids. A study in 1995 comparing the level of Omega-3 fatty acids in 53 boys with ADHD and 43 boys without ADHD. It was found that boys with ADHD have significantly lower Omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, Omega-3 fatty acids can be used to complement treatment for ADHD.

8) Menstrual Pain

Women who have menstrual cramps can reduce the pain with fish oil. Evening Primrose Oil (Gama Linolenic Acid) , is also one of the Omega-3 fatty acid, can be used to treat menstrual cramps.

9) Weight Loss

Omega-3 fatty acids activate the enzyme for burning fat. It is also found to cause the insulin in the blood to reduce by 50%, hence, reduce the fat storage.

Where can you get Omega-3 fatty acids?

The main type of Omega-3 fatty acids that we should be concern of are EPA ( Eicosapentanoic acid ), DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid ) and ALA ( Alpha-linolenic acid ). ALA can be converted in the body into EPA and DHA.

The primary dietary source of Omega-3 comes fish, plant and nut.

EPA ( Eicosapentanoic acid ) and DHA ( Docosahexaenoic acid ) are found in cold water fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines and krill.

ALA ( Alpha Linolenic Acid ) is the vegetarian source of Omega-3. You can find it from flaxseed, flaxseed oil, rapeseed oil ( canola oil ), soya bean, soybean oil, pumpkin seed and oil, walnut and walnut oil

It is important to take note of the source of fish oil. Farmed raised fish oil has a higher risk of heavy metal (mercury, cadmium, lead) contamination compared to wild caught fish.

How much is enough?

A healthy adult should eat fish at least 2 times a week. Higher dose of fish oil may increase the risk of bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke. Higher dose would mean 3 serving of fish a day or more than 3 g Omega-3 fatty acids.

Adult with heart disease should take 1 g of EPA and DHA while those with high cholesterol should take 2-4 g of EPA and DHA.

People with Type 2 diabetes may experience increase in fasting blood sugar when taking Omega-3 from ALA as it is converted to EPA and DHA. Therefore, it is better to get Omega-3  from EPA and DHA instead of ALA.

Are you taking sufficient Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet?

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