What Is Omega-3?
Omega-3 is a group of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, most notably found in cold-water fish. Known as an essential fatty acid, meaning the body must take it in from food sources, omega-3 is important to human metabolism. Omegas exists in nature in three forms, one derived from land plants and two derived from marine sources. In the body, omega-3 is highly concentrated in the brain; it is critical to the formation and maintenance of nerve cell membranes.
Research shows that in the nervous system, omega-3s foster the development of brain circuitry and the speedy processing of information. They also play important roles in stabilizing mood and staving off cognitive decline. Low levels of omega-3s are linked to poor memory and depressive mood. Omega-3 fats are also critical for the formation of anti-inflammatory molecules in the body that protects against pain and disorders like arthritis and joint problems.
Why Are the Benefits of Omega-3s?
Here's a closer look at the brain benefits:
- Builds nerve cell membranes maintain the fluidity of nerve cell membranes
- Allows activation of receptor systems, including the visual receptor system
- Makes many bioactive compounds like the anti-inflammatory resolvins and other neuroprotectants
- Supports energy metabolism
- Modulates sodium, potassium, and calcium channels, affecting cell excitability in brain and heart
- Modulates apoptosis, or programmed cell death
- Provides vascular protection against stroke and dementia.
ANd the body benefits:
- Lower blood triglyceride
- Reduce blood pressure
- Maintain heart function
- Regulate blood pressure
- Counter Inflammation
- Diminish back and joint pain
- Protect mood
- Preserve memory
What Foods Are Rich in Omega-3s?
All people need to consume omega-3 fats regularly. The recommended daily intake for adults is 1.6 grams for males and 1.1 grams for females, according to the National Institutes of Health. The omega-3 family encompasses numerous fatty acids, but three primary forms are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It's important to get omega-3s from food, those that are found in plants as well as those supplied by fatty fish and algae.
EPA and DHA primarily occur in fish. Coldwater and fatty fish are higher in omega-3s, but here is a short list:
Plant foods like nuts and seeds are high in ALA:
- Soy foods
- Pumpkin seeds
- Brussel sprouts