By now, you probably know that you “should” be getting enough Omega-3s in your diet, but do you know why?
The Omega-3 buzz got really strong in the last few years, and people have listened. In fact, according to WebMD, they are one of the most popular supplements in the U.S., but it seems that many of you aren’t sure why you are taking them. Was it something about blood pressure? Memory? Overall health?
Omega-3s are an essential fatty acid that your body needs to maintain health. The list of benefits associated with these fatty acids is long — very long, and the 3 following benefits should be enough to remind you that you are taking them for very good reason:
1. They lower inflammation
The list could potentially stop right here. It turns out that the vast majority of the diseases that people have really boil down to inflammation. Heart disease? Inflammation. Diabetes? Inflammation. Autoimmune Disease? Inflammation. Migraines? Inflammation. Even premature aging, arthritis, cancer, and weight gain have been linked to this type of invisible and chronic inflammation. This is the very type of inflammation that Omega-3s can greatly reduce. Armed with even this limited bit of information, the question really seems to be “why wouldn’t you take Omega-3s?”
2. They help your heart
Yes, helping to lower levels of plaque in your arteries and lowering your triglyceride level is probably also really about reducing inflammation, but heart health is enough of a concern for the general population to warrant its own mention. There is evidence dating back as far as 1989 that even moderate increases of Omega-3 consumption, such as eating fish twice/week, regulates irregular heart rhythms that could lead to heart attack. “Similar, though even more profound, effects were suggested by a Harvard study showing that men who had higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids suffered an 80% lower likelihood of sudden cardiac death compared with men who had low omega-3 blood levels. If you are concerned about heart health, increase your Omega-3 intake.
3. They help your brain
Even in the brain, most issues come down to inflammation, yet again, this is an area worth pointing out more specific benefits. Research has shown that an increase in Omega-3 fatty acid intake can help decrease depression, bi-polar episodes, and there is even preliminary research that has shown a possible benefit to those suffering from schizophrenia. Beyond that, there is also evidence to suggest that a deficiency of Omega-3s can be a factor in age-related cognitive decline, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s.
It turns out it is a good thing you have been taking those fish oils. Supplementation is a fine way to get them if you must (and make sure they are of very high quality or you risk high mercury consumption). You live in Oregon, however, and you are blessed with a bounty of delicious West Coast foods that are rich in Omega-3s: salmon, halibut, tuna, oysters, walnuts, flaxseeds, kale, spinach, and basil. I leave you with this Omega-3-rich (and tasty) recipe for Roasted Squash with Mint and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds.