Omega-3s are a type of fatty acid that our bodies need but cannot produce on their own. There are three main types of omega-3s: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
ALA generally comes from plant-based sources like walnuts, flaxseeds, and cashews, while EPA and DHA are primarily found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. You can also get these omega-3s in the form of supplements, but it is generally better to get them from whole food sources as much as possible.
Once consumed, omega-3s play a crucial role in the body. They are a vital structural component of cell membranes and help regulate cell signaling pathways.
Omega-3s Can Reduce Inflammation in the Body
Chronic inflammation is directly linked to numerous health conditions, including arthritis, heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune disorders.
Omega-3s can help reduce this inflammation in the body by blocking the production of inflammatory molecules called cytokines. In fact, studies have shown that omega-3 supplements may be as effective as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in reducing joint pain and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Omega-3s Can Improve Brain Function and Reduce the Risk of Cognitive Decline
The brain is made up of mostly fat (60%), and omega-3s are an essential component of brain cell membranes.
Studies have shown that increasing your omega-3 intake may improve cognitive function and memory, as well as reduce your risk for age-related cognitive decline and dementia.
Omega-3s may additionally help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Omega-3s Can Improve Heart Health and Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, and numerous studies have linked omega-3 consumption to improved heart health.
Omega-3s can help lower triglycerides, reduce blood pressure, and prevent the formation of dangerous blood clots. Additionally, omega-3s may also reduce inflammation in the arteries and improve the function of the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels.
Omega-3s Can Support Eye Health and Prevent Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of visual impairment in older adults. Omega-3s can help prevent this condition by improving the function of the retina and reducing inflammation in the eye.
Studies have also shown that omega-3s can also improve dry eye symptoms in people with chronic dry eye disease.
If you’re not getting enough omega-3s in your diet, consider adding more nuts, seeds, and fish to your diet, or talk to your doctor about the possibility of taking an omega-3 supplement.