Fatty acids, also known as omega-3s, are an important and vital nutrient for the body. Most commonly found in seafood, fatty acids are also included in some nuts and seeds. No matter the source, ensuring you have enough in your diet can provide a variety of health benefits.
You may have heard seafood or fish called “brain food” when you were younger. That traditional view has been backed up by science in recent years, with studies showing that omega-3 intake has a marked impact on many different brain functions. According to WebMD, omega-3s have shown signs in studies of helping to lower depression and improve the effectiveness of anti-depressant medications; help protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia, and reduce memory issues associated with aging; and minimize some of the symptoms of ADHD.
In addition, children who take fish oil supplements have shown improvement in certain cases of increased mental skills, such as reasoning, recall and learning. Furthermore, DHA – docosahexaenoic acid, one of the three main types of fatty acids – has shown indications of being an important element in early childhood development, key to neurological and visual development, according to WebMD.
Omega-3s also offer a host of heart health benefits as well. In a 2008 info sheet released by the University of California, researchers point to omega-3s reducing blood pressure, lowering heart rate, offering additional protection against coronary heart disease and reducing the occurrence of strokes. WebMD also points to fish oil supplements as a way to help reduce triglyceride levels, which can help, in turn, reduce one of the risk factors for heart disease.
In a recent article, Men’s Health also cited two studies that point to further benefits for omega-3s. First, individuals in a study published by Diabetes Health who had the highest levels of DHA, along with EPA and DPA – eicosapentaenoic acid and docosapentaenoic acid – were found to have a 33 percent reduced risk of diabetes than participants in the study with the lowest levels. In addition, the article cites research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that showed a 14 percent reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease in those individuals who had the highest intake levels of alpha-linolenic acid, the omega-3 fatty acid most commonly found in nuts, seeds and the oils of each.
With so many benefits to your health, keeping your omega-3 levels managed can be an integral part of improving your body’s function and maintaining your health for years to come.