Health Benefits of Omega-3s

Health Benefits of Omega-3s | Dr. Ali Ghahary

If you’re looking to improve your health, omega-3s are something you should consider including more of in your diet. Things like fish, nuts, seeds and plant-based oils are all rich sources of omega-3s, while you can also purchase omega-3 supplements which are available at most health food stores and pharmacies. Below is a more in-depth look at these omega-3 sources and the ways in which they can benefit your health in the long-run.

Omega-3 fats are something that most people don’t get enough of. When you hear the word “fat” your mind likely automatically associates it with foods that ae bad for you. However, in the case of omega-3 fats, these include fats that are considered healthy for you – including polyunsaturated fats. Sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats include, as mentioned, nuts and seeds (such as walnuts and chia seeds), fish (such as salmon), and certain oils (such as sunflower, soybean and safflower) in addition to grains and non-hydrogenated margarine.

Healthy fats such as omega-3s help provide your body with the energy it needs, as well as assists your body in the absorption of other essential nutrients and also improves and promotes healthy brain and nerve function. They are also important for the prevention and management of heart disease. Studies have also indicated that individuals who consume omega-3s regularly were less likely to develop depression and anxiety, or notice a significant improvement in their symptoms – however, that’s not to say that omega-3s should be considered as an alternative to medication to treat mental illness, and you should never stop taking a medication unless otherwise directed by your physician. Instead, omega-3s should be looked at something you can include more of in your diet in effort to improve your wellbeing.

Your vision can also be impacted by omega-3s. In fact, DHA (also known as Docosahexaenoic acid) is one of the major structural components of your retina – the thin layer of tissue that lines the inside of the back of your eye and is responsible for receiving light, which is then converted into neural signals and set to the brain for visual recognition. Without enough DHA, you may start to develop vision problems, such as blurred vision – and, as you age, an increased risk of macular degeneration which can lead to permanent eye damage or even blindness. By increasing your omega-3 intake, you reduce the risk of vision problems from developing – however, along with eating healthy and including omega-3s in your diet, it is also still important to see your optometrist for regular eye exams to keep up with your eye health.

Pregnant women can also benefit from including more omega-3s in their diet, as it’s said to improve a child’s development – including their communication and social skills, decreasing the chance of your child developing behavioural problems, as well as decreases the risk of things like autism, ADHD and cerebral palsy. During pregnancy, the dietary goal of omega-3 fatty acids is approximately 650 mg (or 300 DHA.) However, if fish is going to be your main source, keep in mind that certain types of fish contain high levels of mercury which can be harmful to your baby’s brain and may in fact prevent it from proper development, therefore it is recommended that you limit your fish intake to no more than twice a week.

As mentioned, omega-3s are also known to improve the risk factors for heart disease, which is the world’s leading cause of death. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of heart disease by reducing triglycerides, reducing blood pressure levels, raising good cholesterol levels (also known as “HDL”), prevents the formation of harmful blood clots, prevents the buildup of plaque on your arteries, and can even reduce inflammation.

For an even longer list of the ways in which omega-3s can benefit your health, click here.