" According to studies, people who eat fatty fish regularly have a lower risk of getting heart disease and stroke."
What are Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids?
Omega 3 fatty acids are a group of essential fats that have significant roles in the way your body functions. Your body can't produce enough of these essential fats on its own, therefore, you must obtain them from your diet.
Three Different Types of Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids
There are three different types of omega 3 essential fatty acids. All together, these fatty acids are essential for the normal functioning of your body:
- ALA (Alpha-linolenic Acid)
- DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)
- EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid)
The Health Benefits of Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids
You often heard that fats are bad for your health. However, this myth is far from the truth. Depending on the type of fats, they can be greatly beneficial to your health. Polyunsaturated fats such as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, are those of the healthy fats. There are strong evidences that Omega 3 fatty acids provide significant health benefits to your body.
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ALA (Alpha-linolenic Acid)
Mainly found in plant oils, nuts and seeds, ALA is a good fat because it helps:
- Reduce the risk of heart attacks.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Lower bad cholesterol levels.
- Reverse the hardening of the blood vessels.
- Reduce inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, psoriasis and eczema.
DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)
DHA is a key component of all cell membranes in the body, especially in the brain, retina and sperm cells. Found in the meat of some cold-water (fatty) fish, DHA is known to have significant health benefits such as:
- Supports the healthy development of fetus.
- Helps maintain the brain function in children and adults.
- May help reduce the risk of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.
- Helps keep your cholesterol levels balance. DHA reduces the bad cholesterols and increases the good cholesterols in your body.
- Reduces the risk of heart disease. A research showed that people who eat fatty fish regularly, have a lower rate of heart disease and stroke.
- Helps reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid)
Like DHA, EPA is also found in the flesh of some cold-water fish. It is essentially important to get enough EPA through your diet for the following reasons:
- Together with DHA, they help reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Helps lower the blood fats.
- Helps maintain the brain function and mental health.
- May help prevent the loss of vision due to ageing (in elderly people).
- Reduces hot flashes in menopausal women.
The Best Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
The best sources of DHA and EPA is fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna and sardines. A certain type of algae may provide your body with DHA and EPA, however, the quality and quantity of these DHA and EPA are not as high as the ones from fatty fish. In fact, it can be challenging for people who don't eat fish, to get enough of omega-3 fatty acids through their diets.
ALA are abundantly found in nuts, seeds and plant oils such as chia seed, walnuts, flaxseed (linseed) oil, rosehip seed oil, rapeseed (canola) oil and soybean oil. Many clinical studies suggested that your body may be able to convert ALA to DHA/EPA. However, these studies also suggested that it is unlikely to get enough DHA/EPA from ALA conversion.
The Cosmetic Uses of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are also essential for the maintenance of your skin health. In addition to having a balanced diet, you can use skincare products that contain Chia Seed, Argan and Rosehip oil to improve or maintain your skin health. These three botanical oils are rich in ALA (one of the Omega 3 fatty acids). Chia Seed is the richest plant source of omega 3 fatty acids. It is one of the main ingredients in Ultra Nourishing Repair Balm that helps reduce stretch marks and protect skin from dryness.
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" Argan oil plumps, Niacinamide tackles pigmentation and rosacea and 24 Carat Gold smooths wrinkles. An all-round winner." Vitality, BABTAC (British Association of Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology) learn more >>>
Henry Tianus is a multi-award-winning Anti-Ageing Scientist based in London, UK. Henry Tianus has been listed as The Recognised Institute Practitioner at The Institute of Traditional Herbal Medicine and Aromatherapy (ITHMA), London (UK) since 2005. Henry Tianus's articles have been read by people in more than 100 countries with USA and UK at the top of the list. Join Henry Tianus eNewsletter to receive the latest health and wellbeing tips.
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Scientific Sources: Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA and DHA: Health Benefits Throughout Life, Advances in Nutrition, 2012 Jan: 3(1): 1–7; Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Pregnancy, Reviews in Obstetrics & Gynecology; 2010 Fall: 3(4): 163–171; Omega-3 Fatty Acids, National Institutes of Health; Health benefits of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), Pharmacological Research, 1999 Sep: 40(3): 211-25; Can adults adequately convert alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) to eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3), International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 1998: 68(3): 159-73.