Omega-3 acids are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that help our body function in different ways. Mainly found in seafood, omega-3 can be divided into 3 main types:
- ALA – Alpha-linolenic acid
- EPA – Eicosapentaenoic acid
- DHA – Docosahexaenoic acid
The DHA and EPA of omega-3 fatty acids are found in seafood like salmon, trout, mussels, crab, etc., while ALA comes from other foods such as soy, canola, etc.
In this article, we will discuss in detail the use, benefits, and side effects of omega-3 acids.
Which Foods Contain the Most Omega-3s?
Before we jump straight into the benefits of these fatty acids, here are the foods that are naturally full of its content:
It is among the most nutritious foods in the world. It encompasses high-quality protein and tons of nutrients like vitamin B, vitamin D, and selenium.
It is a small but fatty fish that is boasted with healthy nutrients. A serving of mackerel will provide 0.43g of EPA and 0.59g of DHA. Additionally, the fish is also an excellent source of vitamin B-12 and selenium.
These are amazing plant-based sources of ALA, protein, and fiber. One serving of chia seeds offers 5.055g of ALA.
Generally, oysters are known for its high content of zinc; it also contains a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Six raw oysters have as much as 370mg of omega-3 content. You can eat it as a snack, appetizer, or even a whole meal.
Loaded with fiber, walnuts are highly nutritious. Along with omega-3, these are also boosted with manganese, copper, and vitamin E.
These are tiny, oily fish that are popularly eaten as snacks or starters. They basically have all the nutrients that your body needs like vitamin B12, selenium, and vitamin D. As for omega-3 content, 3.5 ounces of sardines have 1,480 grams.
Seaweed and algae
Chlorella, spirulina, nori are various types of algae that have many health benefits. These are high in EPA and DHA content. Seaweed is also a good source of protein and is considered to have antioxidant, antidiabetic, and antihypertensive characteristics.
The Top 5 Benefits of OMEGA-3
Here are some of the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids that are backed by scientific research:
It can combat anxiety and depression
Depression and anxiety are among the common symptoms of mental disorders. Studies suggest people who consume omega-3 regularly are less likely to feel depressed or anxious. Moreover, people who are already suffering from depression and anxiety can improve their symptoms by consuming omega-3 supplements.
It reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
Stroke and heart attack are among the leading causes of death in the world. Early researches revealed that people eating fish had a lower rate of heart disease. And, later it was linked to the consumption of omega-3. It’s been proven that:
- It can reduce blood pressure levels in people suffering from high blood pressure.
- It can reduce triglycerides by 15% to 30%.
- It can improve the level of good HDL cholesterol.
- It can also protect blood platelets from clumping, thereby preventing blood clots.
It can fight inflammation
While inflammation is the body’s natural response to damage and infection, if it continues for long, inflammation can become long-term. Chronic inflammation can result in diseases such as cancer, heart diseases, etc. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce the molecule production and components linked to inflammation.
It can alleviate the conditions of metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome encompasses central obesity called belly fat, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, low good HDL cholesterol, and high triglycerides. Metabolic syndrome paves the way for many serious health issues. Omega-3 fatty acids can improve the symptoms of metabolic syndrome.
It battles the autoimmune disease
In this condition, the immune system attacks the healthy cells mistaking them for foreign cells. Omega-3s can fight against these diseases and become more important at the earlier stages. Getting an adequate amount of omega-3s in the first year of life can reduce the risk of autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, autoimmune diabetes, etc.
How Much Omega-3 Should I Take Daily?
Various organizations have released their guidelines on the intake of omega-3. People need to consume these fatty acids in different quantities based on their health conditions. But here is a standard suggestion for how much omega-3s you should be consuming:
Consumption for adults
According to some sources, adults should get approximately 0.25 grams of DHA and EPA every day. Moreover, for ALA, males should consume 1.6 grams, whereas women should intake 1.1 grams.
Consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding
During pregnancy and breastfeeding, you need to add more omega-3s to the diet. Women should be consuming 0.3 grams of EPA along with DHA. Moreover, they should be taking 0.2 grams of DHA alone. During pregnancy, women should be consuming 1.4 grams of ALA, whereas when lactating, the consumption should be 1.3 grams.
Consumption for children
For infants up to the age of 1, omega-3 consumption is recommended at 0.5gram in total. Human milk offers EPA, DHA, and ALA for these infants.
Consumption for depression
Young adults with symptoms of depression should consume 1.4 grams of DHA along with EPA daily.
Consumption for heart health
People suffering from cardiovascular disease should keep the omega-3 consumption at approximately 1 gram of EPA along with DHA.
Can Omega-3 Have Side Effects?
Omega-3 fatty acids contain certain side effects that include:
- Flu-like syndrome
- Back pain
- Taste change
- Upset stomach
- Chest pain
Omega-3 fatty acids are certainly beneficial for your health in many ways. However, prior to its consumption, make sure you are aware of its effect on your health. If you experience the above symptoms, then you should contact your physician immediately. Moreover, for the consumption of omega-3 to improve the symptoms of a health condition, you should consult your physician to get accurate recommendations based on your health conditions.