Omega –3 fatty acids belong to the category of the fats which are not produced by the human body and as a result they should be added in the diet. There are 3 kinds of fatty acids, decahexaonic acid (DHA), the eicosipentanoic acid(EPA) and finally the linoleic acid(ALA). Main sources of the omega-3 fatty acids are fish oils and fatty fish such as scambi ,salmon, kippers, fresh tuna and sardines. Vegetarian sources of omega-3 are linseeds, sea wheat, walnuts, soya products, and green leaf vegetables such as kale and spinach
Scientific evidence supports that the omega-3 fatty acids have a positive effect on the physical and brain health.
Omega-3 helps to reduce the cardiovascular disease due to their antihypertensive properties, the regulation of cardiac arrhythmias, the reduction of thrombotic episodes due to the antiplatelet properties and their ability to reduce the inflammation of the arteries. Finally diet reach in fatty acids reduces the blood levels of the harmful lipids such as cholesterol(LDL) and triglycerides however they increase the beneficial cholesterol(HDL)
Except of the benefits on the heart the omega -3 lipids have a positive effect on the regulation of glucose by reducing the cellular insulin resistance which is beneficial for the diabetes sufferers. Osteoarthritis sufferers can be helped with the use of omega -3 fatty acids because they reduce the inflammation in the joints. Additionally fatty acids can reduce osteoporosis and they can prevent the development of certain cancers such as prostate cancer and small bowel cancer.
Certain studies support that the use of omega-3 enhances the memory and they are particularly beneficial for the improvement of mood and reduces depression because of the omega-3 they are absorbed in the membranes of our nervous cells as they make them more flexible and elastic. Pregnant women whom take omega-3 during pregnancy have less chances of developing depression during pregnancy.
Generally, we must increase the omega-3 because they give us a lot of positive advantages to our body such as protection from heart disease, better regulation of our glucose in our blood, reduction of oesteroporosis and less chances of depression etc. Taking these in mind, it is an advantage to consume 2-3 portions of fish a week, to add salad with green leafed vegetables and linseed and to eat walnuts but with caution. In connection with fish and seafood we must prefer the ones that grow naturally in the sea and not in fishponds because they have more omega-3 due to the food they eat.
Yiannis Kerimis MSc RD