We’ve all heard this before. Hopefully this isn’t something knew. And if it is, thanks for tuning into this important fact. Fish and other nutrients are essential for our health.
If you have heard this before, do you know what it is that makes fish so healthy? It’s certain that fish isn’t the only healthy food out there. The real reason we are looking at fish and other foods in regards to health is – Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish isn’t the only sources of this essential fatty acid and later we will look into several other sources. But first, let’s get a closer look at this fatty acid.
What is Omega-3 fatty acid?
This name comes from the chemical breakdown of this fatty acid. Technically this fatty acid is found in plant oils and some marine animals. It can be described as a polyunsaturated fatty acid. This means many things. An unsaturated fat is where there are one or more than one double bonds within the chain of fat.
Monounsaturated means only one double bond.
Polyunsaturated means more than one double bond.
The chemical aspect of this acid tells us that there are two ends to this fatty acid. On one side you have the acid or a COOH ending. On the other end is the methyl or CH3 ending.
The end that has the methyl group is also called the Omega end of the chain. Hence the word Omega. The double bond is as C=C bonding on a carbon chain. Therefore, the double bond is seen at the 3rd carbon. Hence – Omega-3 fatty acid.
It is an Essential Fatty Acid
Here are two groups of words that are put together to mean something. Essential and fatty acid. Omega-3 are not the only fatty acids. They can be essential or nonessential.
Essential tells us that the human body, on its own, can not produce Omega-3 fatty acids. The body can produce many fatty acids. But when it can’t produce something and that molecule is then required from your food sources, it is called Essential. Other examples would be Essential amino acids and more.
Sources of Omega-3 fatty acids
Fish is a great source, because it is found in fish oils.
Other sources include:
1.) Algal oil
2.) Squid oil
3.) Echium oil
4.) Flaxseed oil
7.) Seal oils
9.) And others
Potential Health Benefits
This is where things get interesting. Before this, this blog post was more to describe and to define Omega-3 fatty acids. Now we get to the good part… the health benefits.
Cardiovascular benefits – this is the largest and most important of the benefits. Stimulation of blood circulation is the basic reasoning. This indicates that it may reduce clot formation within arteries and cholesterol. In essence, a potential heart attack could be reduce by eating or consuming omega-3 fatty acids.
Also, Triglyceride levels have been shown to be reduced by consumption of Omega-3.
Other benefits may include helping cardiac arrhythmia, rheumatoid arthritis, varicose veins, stroke, cancer, and others.
There are others who will argue that Omega-3 supplements will also show some benefit in Depression. To my knowledge a large study supporting this has not been done. But, some articles have been written indicating a possible benefit and also include a study that incorporated a single depression medication Sertraline and Fish Oils have shown improvement with Depression.
There also has been increasing discussion about Fish oil improving overall health immune system.
As a supplement, Fish oils often contain an adequate dosing of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are not only seen in fish. But fish is a great source. As discussed, several other sources are available as well. Eggs have a small amount as does Meat. Flax seed oil is a great option. Keep this in mind if you don’t like fish.
There are many heath benefits from Omega-3 fatty oils. Don’t forget to keep it in mind the next time you are shopping. It might just prevent a heart attack in the future.