Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, necessary for health. They are found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, other seafoods including algae and krill, some plants, and nut oils.Omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development. Research also shows that omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce inflammation and may even help lower the risk of chronic diseases… … Here are several more reasons why you should ensure an adequate intake of omega-3.
1. Helps fight depression
Research is not clear on whether taking omega-3 fatty acids can help relieve depression symptoms. Several studies show that people who took omega-3 fatty acids in addition to prescription antidepressants had a greater improvement in symptoms than those who took antidepressants alone. Other studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acid intake helps protect against postpartum depression, among other benefits. However, some studies have found no benefit.
2. Improves eye health
DHA, is a type of omega-3 which is a major structural component of the brain and retina of the eye. When you don’t get enough DHA, vision problems may arise. Interestingly, getting enough omega-3 has been linked to a reduced risk of macular degeneration.
3. Promotes baby's health during pregnancy
Getting enough omega-3s during pregnancy and early life is crucial for the development of the child. Therefore, it’s no surprise that infants fed a DHA-fortified formula have better eyesight than infants fed a formula without it. Getting enough omega-3s during pregnancy has been associated with numerous benefits for the child, including higher intelligence, better communication and social skills, less behavioural problems, decreased risk of developmental delay, and decreased risk of ADHD, autism and cerebral palsy.
4. Improves risk factors for heart disease
One of the best ways to help prevent heart disease is to eat a diet low in saturated fat, and to eat foods that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (including omega-3 fatty acids). Clinical evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil help reduce risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Fish oil also appears to help prevent and treat atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) by slowing the development of plaque and blood clots, which can clog arteries.
5. Good for your skin
Omega-3s can help keep skin cells healthy, preventing premature aging and more. They may also help protect the skin from sun damage.
6. Helps to improve sleep quality
Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with sleep problems in children and obstructive sleep apnoea in adults, while low levels of DHA have been linked to lower levels of the hormone melatonin which helps you fall asleep. Several studies have shown that supplementing with omega-3 increases the length and quality of sleep for both adults and children.
7. Improve joint aches
Studies indicate that omega-3s can improve bone strength by increasing the amount of calcium in bones, and this reducing the risk of osteoporosis and arthritis.
8. May reduce age-related brain function
Several studies have shown that higher omega-3 intake is linked to decreased age-related mental decline and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Another study found that people who ate fatty fish tend to have more grey matter in the brain.
9. Helps to lower levels of cholesterol
People who follow a Mediterranean-style diet tend to have higher HDL (good) cholesterol levels, which help promote heart health. Several studies show that fish oil supplements reduce triglyceride levels. Walnuts, which are rich in alpha linolenic acid or ALA, which can convert to omega-3s in the body, have been reported to lower total cholesterol and triglycerides in people with high cholesterol levels.
Text: Bauer/ Good Health/ Additional Reporting: Shenielle Aloysis