The Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 Fatty Acids are found in oily fish such as salmon and mackerel and have been proven to provide a whole range of health benefits. You’ve probably heard of Omega 3 and many food manufacturers are also quick to cash in on the Omega 3 Fatty Acid. You can now see a wide variety of products ranging from cereal to yogurts with added Omega 3 fatty acids. But exactly what are the benefits of a diet rich in Omega 3 and what should you watch out for?
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times a week. According to the AHA fatty fish such as mackerel, trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon are high in two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids. These are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). You can also get Omega 3 from vegetable sources such as pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts.
Why are Omega 3 Fatty Acids so Beneficial to Health?
Research has shown that they can:
* Decrease risk of irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias), which can lead to sudden cardiac death
* Decrease levels of triglyceride (the fat which has been linked to heart disease)
* Reduce potential blood clots
* Decrease growth rate of the fatty plaques
* Reduce blood pressure
New research has even shown that Omega 3 fats can reduce the risks of certain cancers particularly prostate and skin cancer.
Research involving children has shown that increased levels of Omega 3 can help children concentrate better and improve behaviors such as hyperactivity.
Overall it looks as though Omega 3 fatty acids can have great health benefits particularly the fats found in oily fish such as salmon and mackerel.
However, new studies have shown that too high consumption of oily fish may cause other health risks. Contaminants and mercury levels are at an all time high in these types of fish and may cause damage, particularly to pregnant women and young children.
It is recommended that pregnant women, nursing women and children not consume more than two small portions of oily fish per week. Certain types of fish such as mackerel, swordfish and shark contain higher levels of mercury than salmon or tuna. Always consult your doctor to be sure.
With all the controversy it’s difficult to know whether you should or shouldn’t consume oily fish. So far it looks as though the health benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids outweigh any associated risks, when consumed in moderation and according to guidelines.