Food Facts: Omega-3

Your body cannot survive without the daily consumption of fats. One reason they are needed is because your body is unable to make certain fatty acids, called essential fatty acids. These types of fats must be consumed, as there is no other way to make or obtain them. Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most important of these!

Omega-3 fats are polyunsaturated fats; therefore, they are a good fat! They come in three forms, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), all of which are important. They have significant health consequences, as they help to reduce your risk of chronic disease by decreasing triglycerides in the blood, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing plaque growth, to name a few positive effects. In addition, they reduce inflammation within the body and are essential for healthy brain functioning. Unfortunately, the American diet severely lacks this fat.Omega-6 fatty acids, found in oils, are too abundant in the diet, taking the place of Omega-3 fatty acids. The levels that you should strive to have are consuming two to four times more Omega-6s than Omega-3. Currently, Americans eat fourteen to twenty-five times more Omega-6s; this causes the benefits of Omega-3 to be diminished.

Omega-3 deficiency is common, as you can probably infer from the above statistics. Some symptoms of this deficiency include: depression, tiredness, memory problems, and dry skin. If you show signs for a deficiency or know that you do not eat enough Omega-3 fats, try increasing your intake by having more fish or tree nuts. Salmon, halibut, and tuna are great sources of it, or grab a bag of nuts to carry with you as a snack to class! Do your body a favor; decrease your risk of many chronic diseases and help yourself feel healthier by eating more Omega-3s!

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Harvard School of Public Health

International Food Information Council Foundation

University of Maryland Medical Center



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