What are Omega-3 fatty acids and why are they helpful for heart health?
- Omega-3 (O3) are called essential fatty acids because our own bodies cannot make them, so we must get these from our diet. They are in a class of fats called polyunsaturated fatty acids, AKA PUFAs. O3 fatty acids “are an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body” which means they influence brain function, heart health, and most other functions (1).
What are the different types of Omega-3’s?
- EPA and DHA are O3’s that mostly come from animal sources such as salmon. These are the forms of essential fatty acids that our body uses and both are important for a healthy body (2). Vegetarians can get DHA and EPA from algae oil, however some algal oil only contains DHA so make sure to check!
- ALA is the O3 found in plant sources such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts. Unfortunately, humans have a hard time converting ALA to EPA and DHA, with research showing only 0.2% to 9% conversion (2).
Why is this important?
- Brain function- Did you know that your brain is at least 60% fat (3)? This means that getting the right kinds of fats (i.e. O3) can heavily influence your cognitive function. Luckily, the fats in our brain have a high turnover rate, so adding more O3 to your diet can influence your brain health!
- Heart function- O3’s are heart healthy! Studies have shown that more O3 in the diet correlates to lower blood pressure, decrease inflammation, and improve blood vessel function (1).
- Hormone production- O3’s make the basis for many of our hormones (4). We need to produce enough hormones in order to feel good, burn fat, and prevent disease.
- Inflammation- Multiple studies have shown an inverse correlation between O3 index and inflammatory biomarkers, especially in patients with heart disease (5).
What are the best dietary sources of Omega-3’s?
- When most people think of O3’s, they think of salmon. This is a great source, however it can be contaminated with high levels of mercury. Look for wild-caught Alaskan salmon or buy canned salmon from the brand Safe Catch. They test all of their salmon and tuna for mercury before putting it on the shelves!
- Smaller fish that are lower on the food chain are less contaminated and can be good sources of O3’s. These include atlantic mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and oysters.
- NutriGold Triple Strength Omega-3 Fish Oil Softgels can be taken with food, especially with a meal that contains a source of fat as this improves absorption. NutriGold’s O3’s have been independently lab tested and approved by Consumer Lab for contamination. The fish used are sustainably caught and contain none of the major allergens. Stop by the Cameron Wellness Center to pick yours up today!