How Important Are Omega Fats For Our Body?

Posted by Mitravinda on 16th Apr 2018

How Important Are Omega Fats For Our Body?

It is said, “Healthy body needs a Healthy diet”. The stress levels are increasing in daily life because of the working conditions, therefore, one needs a balanced and a healthy diet.

The food industry is also filled with a number of food items that look sumptuous to the palate but don’t have that nutrient value or in reality cause more harm than good. So, it is really important for us to know one it is good for health and what is not.

Food rich in Omega Fatty Acids is found to be incredibly beneficial for health and helpful in curing many diseases.

What are Omega Fatty Acids

These are a cluster of Carbon and hydrogen atoms bonded by unsaturated bond and could be a short chain or long chain. They are polyunsaturated and have a double bond at 3 rd or 6 th carbon position. At 3 rd carbon position, they are known as Omega 3 fatty acids and at 6 th carbon position as Omega 6 fatty acids

Omega 3 fatty acids contain ALA (alpha-Linolenic acid) which is present in green leafy vegetables, EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid), a 20 Carbon fatty acid which is found in fish oil, algae oil and DHA( Docosahexaenoic acid), a 22 Carbon molecule which is again present in fish oil, algae oil etc. Our body majorly needs EPA and DHA for proper functioning. Omega 6 fatty acids contain Gamma-linolenic acid.

Some food items, other than green leafy vegetables, that contain Omega 3 fatty acids are Salmon, Halibut, Sardines, Albacore, Walnut, Canola oil, Catfish, Cod, and Tuna, etc. Omega 6 fatty acids are present in Corn, Sunflower, Soybean, and Cottonseed oil. 

Omega fatty acids host a lot of benefits for the body which includes 

  • Omega 3s are found to have anti-depressant – It has been found that people who consume Omega 3 Fatty acids are less likely to suffer from anxiety or depression disorders. They are natural mood enhancers. “Did you know that consumption of Omega Fatty acids rich in EPA has the same depression fighting property as an anti-depressant drug?”
  • Omega 3s can improve eyesight–DHA present in Omega 3 fatty acids are good for eyes and are likely to prevent macular degeneration which can lead to permanent vision loss.
  • Promote Brain health – DHA present in Omega fatty acids are also good for brain development. Hence they are good for infants and pregnant women. Deficiency of these in the diet may lead to lesser brain growth, weaker eyesight and can also result in behavioral issues in children “Milk supplements nowadays are focusing on DHA required for development of brain and eyes in young children”
  • Prevents Heart Diseases – Omega 3s have a number of benefits for the heart and it’s functioning which include
  1. Reduced blood pressure
  2. Avoiding clot formation in the blood
  3. Restricting the formation of plaques in the blood
  4. Reduces chances of inflammation
  5. Increases HDL or good cholesterol in the body
  • Omega 3s reduces symptoms of ADHD in young children – ADHD is a behavioral disorder characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity, reduced attention span etc. Fish oil is found to be one of the best sources to fight ADHD in children
  • Omega 3s fight inflammation – Inflammation is required for the healing of the wound/injury but in some people, inflammation stays for a longer period. Omega 3s helps release cytokines and thereby reducing inflammation 
  • Fights Auto-Immune diseases - Omega 3s and Omega 6s help fight some of these diseases. It is found that consumption of fatty acids at an early age gives strength to the body in fighting many of these diseases, particularly, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes, Crohn’s disease etc.
  • Omega 3s can improve mental disorders – Omega 3s can help reduce many Psychological diseases and disorders. Omega 3s can reduce mood swings and helps in managing anger in such people.
  • Omega 3s can help reduce Alzheimer’s or age-related memory loss – Omega 3s is very beneficial for Alzheimer patients and also help in reducing symptoms of memory loss. It is found that people who eat a lot of fish have more grey matter and have the good memory retention and maintain emotional balance
  • Omega 3s may help prevent cancer – Omega 3s have found to have anti-cancer property. In some studies, it is found that Omega 3s in a diet is good for preventing and treating Breast cancer in women and colon and prostate cancer.
  • Good for Asthmatics –Asthma in many cases is caused due to inflammation of the respiratory tract, it is seen that consumption of Fatty acids reduces the chances of Asthma attacks in children
  • Fatty Liver – Omega 3s are also found good for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Acid disease (NAFLD). It has been found to reduce liver fat and inflammation in such people
  • Improve bone and joint movement – A combination of Omega 3s and Omega 6s can help improve the bones by increasing calcium content in them. They reduce osteoporosis (loss of bone strength especially in case of Women). They are also found to help with arthritis and other bone-related disease reducing inflammation and improving movement of joints. The bones of spine and hips showed improvement in both men and women.
  • Omega 3s can reduce menstrual pain – Menstrual pains occur in women starting from lower abdomen, pelvis and to the lower back. Studies have found that Women who consume Omega 3s in their diet have lesser body pains.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids improve sleep – Lesser DHA content lowers Melatonin which arouses sleep. Thus consumption of Omega fatty acids improves sleep and help in fighting sleep Apnea, depression, obesity etc. 
  • Omega Fatty Acids are good for skin-DHA present in fatty acids helps in forming cell membranes and hence keeping skin healthy, EPA present in fatty acids also helps in keeping skin hydrated, reducing acne problem and keeping the skin hydrated.
  • Reduce Nerve Pain – Additionally, Omega 6 fatty acids in the diet help reduce nerve pain in Diabetic Neuropathy

How much fatty acid our body needs on regular basis? 

It is important to maintain a balance between the fatty acids (Omega 3, 6 or 9) to absorb the benefits of these wonderful food ingredients. For healthy body functions, every human requires 250-500 mg of EPA and DHA combined. However, people suffering heart disease or cancer require a higher amount of their benefits approx. 4000 mg per day. Usually having fish twice a week is sufficient to meet the body requirements. It is better to eat wisely and lead a healthy life! 

Authors Bio

Mitravinda is a Nutritionist at DietChart with a doctoral degree in Food Science and Nutrition. She is a teacher, researcher, and an author. Her passion for the subject prompted her to start writing blogs on various nutrition-related topics such as diet chart for weight loss, how to remove whiteheads from the nose,  how to remove whiteheads from nose etc. Through her blogs, she wishes to help people gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between food, nutrition, lifestyle, and health.

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