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Omega 3 - An Essential Part of Your Daily Diet Explored

High in Omega 3 salmon dinner with vegetable salad with purslane.

In the world of supplements and super-foods, there is one name that is continually being spoken about - Omega 3. Recommended by a myriad of sources, from doctors to fitness companies, this magical word has a lot of buzz around it. There has been an upturn of interest in recent years, running parallel with everyone being generally more conscious about what is being put into their bodies on a daily basis.
But the question is why? What makes Omega 3 a must-have for your diet? What benefits does it provide? Today, we will be exploring exactly what it can do for you and your family in order to aid your quest for a healthier and more active lifestyle.

What is Omega 3?

It's important to grasp what Omega 3 actually is. In short, it is an unsaturated fatty acid, present in both animals and plants. This is important, as the source of Omega 3 can impact the body in different ways, which we will discover further on. Critically, we need to recognize why unsaturated fats are beneficial for the body, compared with saturated fats and it boils down to the structure; put simply, unsaturated fats are easier for the body to break down and use efficiently. A healthy and balanced diet needs fats as a component of the macronutrients that comprise a full day's worth of calorie intake.

What are the Health Benefits of Omega 3?

As mentioned, there are various ways that this healthy fat interacts with our body and provides a plethora of benefits for overall health and wellbeing. There have been a variety of studies (www.medicalnewstoday.com) that point to findings that it is beneficial in the following areas:

Multiple sclerosis (MS)

Fish oils have a protective effect that coats the nervous system and brain and thus, helps people who suffer from MS.

Post-partum depression

During pregnancy, it is advised that Omega 3 is consumed to reduce the risk of experiencing post-partum depression. To expand, as previously stated, different sources of Omega 3 will reap varying benefits and in this instance, it is recommended that food sources are used rather than supplements, due to the food containing other essential macronutrients such as protein.

Furthermore, a study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1908631) concluded that other Omega 3 health benefits were found which are:
  • Cardiovascular health (by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, plaque build-up in the arteries, and the chance of having a heart attack or stroke)
  • Stabilizing blood sugar levels (preventing diabetes)
  • Reducing muscle, bone and joint pain by lowering inflammation
  • Helping balance cholesterol levels
  • Sharpening the mind and helping with concentration and learning
  • Boosting immunity
  • Treating digestive disorders like ulcerative colitis
  • Reducing risk for cancer and helping prevent cancer re-occurrence
Who Can Consume Omega 3?

As you can see, there are a multitude of benefits for increasing and including Omega 3 in your daily diet. But is it applicable to everyone of all ages? Let's take a deep dive into different age groups and see how it all fits together.

Omega-3s for Infants, Prenatal Health, and Pregnancy

There is evidence that suggests Omega 3 is important right from the word go; while the infant is still in the womb, the mother should consume fish oils in order to see the following benefits:
  • Cognitive development - Hand-eye coordination is obviously critical and there are studies that have shown this was improved with the consumption of Omega 3. In addition, other areas such as attention span, social skills, and intelligence were said to be improved.
  • Asthma risk - In 2008, a study was conducted that found teenage children of women who took fish oil during pregnancy were less likely to have developed asthma.
  • Preterm labor - In 2003, it was tested that women who ate Omega 3 enriched eggs were less likely to go into premature labor than women who fed on standard eggs.
Omega-3s for Children and Teens

Studies surrounding typical childhood afflictions have been examined across the years and it covers the below topics:
  • ADHD - It has been suggested that children with ADHD have lower levels of Omega 3 in their bodies than normal, therefore fish oil supplements would be a viable treatment.
  • Depression - Not a widely known fact, fish oil is frequently used as a treatment for depression in adults, as well as children. A 2006 study determined that a group of 6 to 12-year-olds who underwent the treatment had their symptoms dramatically improved.
  • Diabetes - A study performed with children who were at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes found that those that ate a diet rich in Omega 3 were less likely to develop the affliction.
How to Get Omega 3 In Your Diet

You may have noticed on your trips to the store that you'll see food packaging proudly proclaiming that their contents are high in Omega 3, but it's always best to seek the whole food variation, rather than relying on artificially added Omega 3 to a food item. Here is a quick rundown of some foods you can buy and believe it or not, it isn't just fish!
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Cod Liver Oil
  • Herring
  • Oysters
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Caviar
  • Flaxseed
  • Chia Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Soybeans
  • Purslane (an edible weed - vegetable)
Other Benefits of Omega 3

As an addition to the health benefits explored earlier, there are other key benefits of consuming more Omega 3 in your diet.

It can help you sleep better

A study conducted with children found that those who took an Omega 3 supplement slept for longer and woke up less frequently during the night. Researchers also believe a similar effect can be found in adults. Why? Omega 3 aids the body in producing melatonin which helps you to fall asleep.

It can soothe your skin

Scientists in Spain discovered that along with topical treatments, using Omega 3 supplements helped ease psoriasis and eczema. This is likely due to the anti-inflammatory properties of the Omega 3.

It can lower your blood pressure

The fatty acids are responsible for reducing blood pressure through their ability to help the blood vessels dilate. This, in turn, means the heart doesn't need to work as hard to pump blood around the body, which also could be linked with Omega 3 reducing the risk of a stroke.

It can boost your memory

It's easy to forget things in your daily life, but it can be frustrating when it becomes a common occurrence. It's a common problem, which is why research has been focused on how Omega 3 can help the memory. The results where that after taking supplements for six months, the memory was sharpened. This is believed to be due to the DHA found in the fatty acids which help the nerve cells communicate more efficiently with one another.

It can ease PMS

As well as easing painful cramps, Omega 3 has been found to reduce headaches, bloating and breast tenderness.

Therefore, it's clear to see how beneficial Omega 3 is for your health and wellbeing and should be a mainstay in your diet. Research is being actively pursued and there are constantly new discoveries being made that unearth further hidden qualities that are present that can make you feel better in your day to day life.

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