What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

When you are trying to lose weight, it is common knowledge that you want to cut out as much fat as you can from your body. However, we are now learning that not all fats are bad for you and that you actually need certain fats to stay healthy. Women especially need fat cells in their body for the hormones to work properly. The good fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The unhealthy fats are saturated and trans fats.

Monounsaturated fats lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. You can find monounsaturated fats naturally in nuts, avocados, canola and olive oils. Studies have shown that these fats help when trying to lose weight. Polyunsaturated fats also lower LDL cholesterol. You can find this type of fat in certain oils, fish oil, and salmon. One of the most popular polyunsaturated fats on the market today is Omega-3 fatty acids. Walking down the dairy aisle at the store you see eggs that are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids. There is a rise in people eating fish because of their Omega-3 properties. Why is this case? What are Omega-3 fatty acids?

We need Omega-3 fatty acids in our diet; however our body does not naturally produce it like other essential vitamins. Since it is a polyunsaturated fat, you can find Omega-3 in salmon, tuna, halibut, and other types of fish. Sometimes we don’t get enough fish in our diets, or in the case of women who are pregnant or might become pregnant, they should limit their consumption of fish because of mercury levels. One way to ensure that we are getting the amount of Omega-3 in our diet is to take a supplement that contains fish oil. In the case of women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, there are some prenatal vitamins that are including Omega-3 in the vitamin.

There are many health benefits to taking an Omega-3 supplement. Omega-3 fatty acids have been known to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, depression, joint pain, and sometimes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Why is this? Experts say that Omega-3 fatty acids promote the production of certain chemicals in our body that helps control inflammation. Studies have shown that by eating one to two servings of fish rich in the Omega-3’s a week can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Some years ago a warning came out about eating fish because of mercury levels. Experts came out and said that eating one to two servings of fish each week will not cause harm. One serving size of fish is three ounces or about the size of a deck of cards.

Recent studies have shown that Omega-3 fatty acids also help promote a healthy brain. There were two groups of mice. One group was given a diet that typical Americans eat. Three other groups of mice were given a diet supplemented with Omega-3 fatty acids. After about three months, the groups whose diet was supplemented with Omega-3 had lower levels of the proteins that may cause memory loss.
There are many health benefits to taking Omega-3 fatty acids. Since our body cannot produce this essential fatty acid on its own, we need to get it by eating fish and taking a fish oil supplement. Remember to talk to your doctor about what supplement is good for you.

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