Omega-3 Fatty Acids Health Benefits and Benefits of PUFAs |

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Health Benefits and Benefits of PUFAs

You've probably heard about Omega 3 in recent years. Why? Omega 3 fatty acids are key to normal development and growth.

A growing body of scientific research shows that these healthy fats help prevent a wide range of medical problems, including depression, cardiovascular disease, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, psoriasis, and many inflammatory diseases.

Omega-3 fatty acids (PUFAs) give a person many health benefits and play an important role in reducing inflammation throughout the body - in blood vessels, joints and elsewhere. Studies show strong evidence that omega-3 fatty acids help lower blood pressure and triglycerides. People who have had a heart attack and are taking omega-3 acids have a lower risk of further heart attacks.

Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the overall risk of death from heart disease. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3s play an important role in the function of the brain, its normal growth and development. Omega-3 acids are highly concentrated in the brain, which has an important effect on cognitive (memory and performance) and behavioral functions. Studies also show the effect of omega-3s on reducing inflammation and reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases.

Symptoms of PUFA deficiency usually include fatigue, heart problems, poor memory, dry skin, mood swings, depression, poor blood circulation, brittle hair and nails, inability to concentrate, and joint pain.

What is omega-3 acid?

Omega-3 acids are considered essential fatty acids. They are needed for our body so that it can function normally. Unlike saturated fats found in oil and fat, omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated. The terms “saturated” and “irreplaceable” refer to the number of hydrogen atoms that are attached to the carbon chain of fatty acids.

Polyunsaturated fats (as opposed to saturated) are liquid at room temperature and remain in a liquid state when chilled or frozen. Although each type of fat can contribute to better health, the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in health promotion and disease prevention cannot be exaggerated.

The three most nutritionally important omega-3 fatty acids are:

  • Alpha linolenic acid (ALA),
  • eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and
  • docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
  • Since these essential acids (ALA, DHA, and EPA) are not produced in our bodies, we must receive them from our diet from the outside.

The two main ones - EPA and DHA - are found in some fish. Plants (e.g. flax) contain Omega-3 ALA, which the body partially converts to DHA and EPA. Algae and oil often give only DHA. DHA and EPA are found together only in fatty fish and algae.

Experts say that the benefits of DHA and EPA - from fish and fish oil - are better established for health than plant sources with ALA, which are less known - although they have the same benefits.

What are the functions of omega-3 fatty acids in the body?
As you know, every cell in our body is surrounded by a cell membrane, consisting mainly of fatty acids. The cell membrane allows enough nutrients to enter the cell, and also ensures that waste is quickly removed from the cell.

To perform these functions, however, it is necessary that the cell membrane retains its integrity and fluidity. Cells without a healthy membrane lose their ability to retain water and vital nutrients. Moreover, they also lose their ability to communicate with other cells! Researchers believe that the loss of communication from cell to cell is one of the physiological factors that leads to the growth of cancerous tumors.

Due to the fact that cell membranes are composed of fat, their integrity and fluidity is determined to a large extent by the types of fats that we eat. Remember that saturated fats solidify at room temperature, while omega-3 fats remain liquid. A diet containing a large amount of saturated or hydrogenated fats causes the cell membranes to become rigid and not flexible enough. On the other hand, a diet rich in omega-3 fats provides a high degree of fluidity of the membranes.

Recent in vitro (in vitro) evidence suggests that when omega-3 fatty acids are embedded in cell membranes, they can protect against cancer, especially breast cancer. Researchers have found that omega-3 acids affect cell growth by activating an enzyme called sphingomyelinase, which ultimately leads to the death of cancer cells.

In animal experiments, mice were fed a diet rich in both Omega-3 (fish oil) and Omega-6 (corn oil) fatty acids, after which they were implanted with cancer cells. Three weeks later, the volume and weight of the cancer was significantly lower in those mice that were on the omega-3 diet. The activity of sphingomyelinase increased by 30–40%, and the growth of breast cancer cells decreased by 20–25%.

Omega-3 fats also play an important role in the production of powerful hormones called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins help regulate many important physiological functions, including blood pressure and blood coagulation, nerve transmission, inflammatory and allergic reactions, impaired renal and gastrointestinal function, and the production of other hormones.

The role of EPA and DHA in the prevention of cardiovascular disease is largely due to the ability of these fats to increase the production of favorable prostaglandins.

Omega-3 Health Benefits

Cardiovascular health and reduced blood fat (triglycerides) . Omega-3 fatty acids lower your overall risk of death from heart disease. Fish oil helps prevent and treat atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), slow down the development of blood clots and plaques, clogging the arteries. Fish oil can help with arrhythmias, and people who take fish oil supplements after a heart attack reduce their risk of having a heart attack again. Those who eat fish 1 or 2 times a week significantly (by 50%) reduce the risk of stroke. According to a number of studies, fish oil supplements also reduce elevated triglycerides, a high level of which is a risk factor for heart disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis . A number of studies have shown that fish oil supplements significantly reduce stiffness and joint pain. Omega-3s also increase the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.
Depression . Researchers have found that those cultures that eat foods high in omega-3s have lower levels of depression. Fish oil also seems to enhance the effect of antidepressants and may help reduce depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Prenatal health . EPA and DHA supplements during pregnancy stimulate the health of pregnant women and the development of their children. DHA is important for the vision and development of the nervous system in children.
Asthma . Experience has shown that a diet high in omega-3 acids reduces inflammation, a key component in asthma. However, more research is needed to prove the effect of fish oil on improving lung function.

Alzheimer's disease and dementia . Omega-3 fatty acids help protect against dementia and Alzheimer's.
High cholesterol. People using the Mediterranean diet tend to have higher HDL or “good” cholesterol, which improves heart health. Eskimos who get large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish tend to have high HDL cholesterol and low triglycerides (blood fats).
High blood pressure. Clinical studies suggest that diets rich in omega-3 acids lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.

Diabetes. People with diabetes often have low HDL. PUFAs can lower triglycerides and apoproteins (markers of diabetes), while increasing HDL.
Systemic lupus erythematosus . A few small studies show that EPA and fish oil can help reduce the symptoms of lupus, an autoimmune condition characterized by fatigue and joint pain.
Osteoporosis. Omega-3 fatty acids increase the level of calcium in the body and improve bone strength. Also, people who are not getting enough essential fatty acids are more likely to lose bone mass than people with normal levels of these acids.

Attention Disorders with Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD) Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may have low levels of individual fatty acids (including EPA and DHA). A clinical study of nearly 100 boys in countries with low levels of omega-3 fatty acids revealed more behavioral problems (such as anger and sleep disorders) than boys with normal omega-3 levels.
Colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer . Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. For example, Eskimos have a diet high in Omega-3s and, accordingly, low levels of colorectal cancer. Animal studies have shown that omega-3 fats also prevent the deterioration of colon cancer.
Women who eat foods rich in omega-3 acids for many years are less likely to develop breast cancer. Population studies of a group of men show that a diet with omega-3s made from fish or fish oil helps prevent the development of prostate cancer.

Omega 3 acids in foods

Studies have shown that relatively small amounts of omega-3 food sources can have a significant effect on your omega-3 levels. For example, two weekly servings of (non-fried) fish (such as wild Pacific salmon) are enough to raise your blood omega-3 levels.

Anchovies, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardine, halibut, stellate sturgeon, lake trout and tuna are high in DHA and EPA acids. Many experts recommend eating these fish 2-3 times a week.

Good sources of ALA, which are converted to Omega-3 fatty acids in the body, we find in walnuts, flax and linseed oil, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, canola, olive and soybean oils.

There is no standard dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Experts usually recommend 1 gram (1000 mg) of DHA and EPA daily for those who have heart problems. People with certain diseases can take a dose of up to 4 g per day, but only under the supervision of a doctor. At high doses (3 grams and above), omega-3 supplements (EPA / DHA) may increase the risk of bleeding. The most common side effect of fish oil is indigestion and gas in the intestines.

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