Do You Need Omega 3s?
Omega 3s are one of the essential fatty acids that the body cannot produce on its own. The inability of the body to produce omega 3s, means we have to consume foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids in order to keep our bodies running at optimal levels, but why? What is it about Omega 3s that improve health? Does the body really need something it cannot produce?
Understanding the Function of Omega 3s in the Body
Omega 3s are used by the brain and in the growth and development of the body. The inflammatory properties of these healthy fats is the main function in the body. Taking a look at the health conditions that can be treated by increasing the consumption of Omega 3s can actually teach us how they work in the body.
The heart, for instance, is healthier when Omega 3s are part of the everyday diet. Researchers have found that a diet rich in Omega 3s helps to prevent the onset of heart disease later in life. Why? The Omega 3s work with the body to reduce bad cholesterol levels and blood pressure (the inflammatory properties kicking in). With a reduction in blood pressure and cholesterol, the chance of heart disease naturally decreases.
Taking a closer look at cholesterol, Omega 3s are full of HDL or high density lipoproteins. These are often referred to as good cholesterol. Eating more Omega 3s will increase the amount of good cholesterol in the blood, but it also helps to reduce the bad cholesterol, or LDLs, in the blood as well. This is due to the DHA and EPA found in Omega 3s. DHA and EPA are acids found in Omega 3s that work with the body to reduce LDL and triglycerides. Once the bad cholesterol is lowered and the good cholesterol is raised, the chance of suffering from heart disease drops dramatically.
Omega 3s can also work with the heart to reduce blood pressure. Research has noted a link between inflammation in the body and hypertension, or high blood pressure. According to one study by Dr. Haidong Zhu of the Medical College of Georgia, hypertension is a condition very closely related to inflammation. Omega 3s have a natural ability to relieve inflammation, thus the power they have in reducing high blood pressure.
Eating Just the Right Omega 3s for Better Health
There has been some debate in recent months over the best source of Omega 3s for ultimate health. Fortified foods will often contain DHA and EPA which are two important acids in the body, as stated earlier. However, these fortified foods utilize supplements as the source of the Omega 3s in many cases. Supplementation of Omega 3s may improve health, but some doctors believe the best source remains foods that are rich in Omega 3s.
Foods that are rich in Omega 3s include salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, canola oil and soybeans. The great thing about the foods that are rich in Omega 3s is that children and pregnant women can take advantage of these rich oils simply by adding the foods to their diet.