Whenever we hear something about fats, the first thing that comes to our mind is that it is bad for our health. We Indians have framed the wrong opinion that all fats are bad. But it is a false notion that all fats are bad. Mainly trans fats and saturated fats are harmful to the body, they can give rise to several heart problems. Some types of fats offer beneficial effects on the body in multiple ways. One such fat is omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 fatty acid is essential fats that a body needs for weight management, fetal development, and maintaining cell membranes. The body doesn’t produce this fat in the body and hence it has to be taken from the outside as in what we eat.
Omega 3 fatty acids can be categorized into 3 types –
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) – The body mostly uses this fatty acid to produce energy. ALA can be converted to EPA or DHA, the active form of omega 3. It is easily found in the chloroplast of green leafy vegetables. Flaxseed is the major source of this. This is also present in canola oil, walnuts, and soybean but in small quantities.
- EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) - It is most commonly found in marine animals. It governs healthy cardiovascular functions, and inflammatory response and also helps in fetal development.
- DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) – It is a polyunsaturated fatty acid. It is responsible for fetal development and helps regulate CVS functions.
Health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids
- Good for heart health – Consuming the right amount of omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent several heart conditions/diseases. Heart disease is getting more common in our country. Blood pressure, CHD, and heart attack are the most common cause of mortality with heart issues. One can stay healthy and protect the heart by consuming adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Support bone health – Calcium along with omega 3 fatty acids is essential for building bone density which ultimately leads to good bone health.
- Useful in pregnancy – Regular intake of this helps in better cognitive development in infants. Pregnant ladies should consume foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. DHA, one of its types, helps in developing the brain in infants.
- Prevent rheumatoid arthritis – Arthritis is inflammation of joints. Lower consumption of omega 3 fatty acids could lead to bone weakness. Omega 3 fatty acid increases the production of anti-inflammatory mediators that help manage rheumatoid arthritis.
Omega 3 fatty acid sources
- Chia seeds, walnuts, and flax seeds.
- Fortified food items like bread, yogurt, or eggs.
- Seafood like fish
- Plant oils – canola oil, flaxseed oil, soybean oil.
(Disclaimer: The content on this site is for informational purposes only, and should not be taken as professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other health professionals for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.)