You might have heard about the benefits of omega 3, but have you really taken the time to understand their impact on your body and overall health? Omega 3s are a form of fatty acids that are essential for you to consume every day. Although they are naturally found in certain foods, many people are unknowingly not consuming enough of it.
- Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- Types of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- Omega 3 Benefits Your Whole Body
Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Your body is incapable of producing omega 3s, so the only sources of omega 3 are certain foods and vitamin supplements. Now, omega 3s are found in all sorts of foods. You can find them in cereals, snack bars, protein shakes, milk, and other dairy by-products like yogurt. Moreover, walnuts, fish, and fish oil are known to be naturally high in omega 3 fatty acids. So are several types of seeds, including chia seeds and flax seeds.
Whole foods are a great source of omega 3. However, if you are allergic to any foods or cannot consume such mood-boosting foods for any reason, then you can take omega 3 supplements. It is pertinent to note that using omega 3 supplements will not provide any noticeable benefits if there is no omega 3 deficiency in your body.
You can also find various protein shakes that provide an ample amount of omega 3s like this Chocolate Chirps Protein Powder. It is sustainable and high quality, and it satisfies all the natural nutritional needs of your body. However, if you are taking the supplement route, then ensure that your chosen supplement:
- includes DHA and EPA
- has a 2:1 ratio of DHA to EPA (some studies have shown that this ratio enhances anti-inflammatory properties)
- is naturally-sourced and pure; it is best to read reviews and research before making a purchase
- is fresh, as omega 3 supplements can go rancid
Some products that include omega 3 supplements include:
- fish oil
- seed oils (e.g., flaxseed oil)
- cod liver oil
- krill oil
- algae oil (vegetarian option)
The following 10-minute Youtube video highlights some amazing vegan sources of omega 3 fatty acids.
Types of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
There are three types of omega 3 fatty acids called ALA, EPA, and DHA. EPA and DHA can be sourced from animal-based foods, while ALA is typically found in plants. They can be directly consumed through food or via dietary supplements. However, do not use the supplements as a substitute. These types are further explained below.
ALA: Alpha Linolenic Acid
This is the most common type of omega 3 that is found in your diet and is typically used for energy. You can find ALA in foods like flaxseed oil, chia seeds, canola oil, hemp seeds, soybeans, and walnuts.
DHA: Docosahexaenoic Acid
DHA is known for promoting eye health and is also good for your brain and the overall functioning of your body. DHA is mainly sourced from animal foods such as meat, fish, eggs, cattle, dairy, and fish oil. If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, you may lack DHA in your body. However, you can cover this deficiency through algae-based supplements.
Moreover, DHA is specifically recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as it can have a positive effect on the intelligence, brain health, and overall health of developing babies.
EPA: Eicosapentaenoic Acid
Just like DHA, this type of omega fatty acid is found in animal products—mainly in seafood. EPA also aids with the overall functioning of your body. Moreover, it is also converted into DHA by your body.
Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3s are very essential for maintaining a healthy body. They promote eye health, brain health, cardiovascular health, and the overall functioning of your body. However, the benefits of omega 3s go beyond maintaining your body’s functioning. Some of the most common benefits of omega 3 are listed below.
- Reduce Inflammation
- Reduce the Chance of Heart Diseases
- Assist in Beating Obesity
- Help Fetal and Child Development
- Help Reduce Menstrual Cramps and Pain
- Effectively Boost Your Mood
- Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis
Omega 3s are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and are therefore considered very important in an athlete’s diet. EPA and DHA considerably reduce inflammation, which also assists in improving your cardiovascular health.
Reduce the Chance of Heart Diseases
As mentioned above, EPA and DHA improve your cardiovascular health. This means you are less likely to suffer from a heart attack or develop other heart diseases.
Assist in Beating Obesity
Omega 3s do not help with weight loss, but they do help prevent weight gain. However, as per the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers are not quite sure how omega 3s are able to do that.
Help Fetal and Child Development
Benefits of omega 3 fatty acids are widely known among pregnant and breastfeeding women. Omega 3, especially DHA, is known to improve the brain health of babies as they develop in the womb and after birth.
Help Reduce Menstrual Cramps and Pain
Menstrual cramps can be very painful for some women. The uterus swells up to double its original size as the menstrual cycle progresses. However, consuming foods that contain omega 3 can considerably reduce menstrual cramps and any associated pain. This is because of the anti-inflammatory properties of omega 3s, which effectively reduce the inflammation in your uterus to minimize pains and cramps.
Effectively Boost Your Mood
The foods that contain plenty of omega 3s are known as mood-boosting foods, too. They have the ability to transform your mood by making you feel fuller and satisfying the nutritional needs of your body.
Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis
Fish oil contains a considerable amount of omega 3s and helps reduce joint pains. It eases the stiffness in the joints and significantly reduces the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, according to studies.
Omega 3 Benefits Your Whole Body
Omega 3s are an important part of your diet. They are typically found in animal-based foods, as well as some plants. However, they can also be taken in the form of supplements. However, it is important to remember that supplements should not be considered substitutes for whole foods. Which omega 3 foods do you plan to incorporate into your diet? Choose a few and see how they help your overall health and your mood.