Role of Omega Fatty Acids in Good Nutrition
Omega-3s are termed essential fatty acids (EFAs) because they are critical for good health.
Since the body cannot make them on its own, omega-3s must be obtained from food.
Reduce hypertension. Studies of large groups of
people have found that the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may aid in lowering overall
blood pressure level.
Improve heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids may play a
part in keeping cholesterol levels low, stabilizing irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), and
reducing blood pressure.
Protecting the heart. Researchers now believe that
alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), one of the omega-3s, may be particularly beneficial in protecting
against heart and blood vessel disease, and for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Key omega-3 fatty acids include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexanoic acid (DHA), and
alpha-lineolenic acid (ALA). EPAs and DHAs are found in oily cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon,
and mackerel, as well as fresh seaweed. ALAs are found primarily in dark green leafy vegetables,
flaxseed oils, and certain vegetable oils.
There is no established recommended daily intake for omega-3s, but a healthy diet containing
significant amounts of foods rich in this essential fatty acid is recommended.
Omega-3 fatty acids are very safe to consume. However, most experts recommend limiting fish
consumption to two to three servings weekly because so many fish may be tainted with mercury
and other contaminants. Fish oil capsules do not usually present this same risk.
There are no known side effects associated with increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids
through foods, although fish oil capsules do pose the risk of a "burp" factor – a harmless, sometimes
unpleasant, fishy aftertaste that occurs with some brands of fish oil capsules.