The Skinny on Omega-3 Fats

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Omega-3 fats are called essential fats and must be derived from the diet as the body cannot make them. The three most nutritionally important omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) , eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). In general, ALA is found in plant sources such as flaxseed oil, soy, canola, walnut and perilla oil, while EPA and DHA is found in cold-water fish.

Omega-3 fats are involved in several bodily functions and have significant health benefits including:

• Supporting brain function
• Improving cognition
• Lessening severity of depression or attention deficit disorder
• Anti-inflammatory properties
• Promoting heart health
• Reducing allergic reaction
• Aiding dry skin and hair conditions
• Assisting in the digestive process
• Immune support

Conditions that can benefit from omega-3 supplementation include depression, type 2 diabetes, dry skin, heart disease, weight loss, chronic fatigue syndrome, colitis, Crohn’s, irritable bowel syndrome and arthritis.

Unfortunately, due to the consumption of too many of the wrong fats such as trans-fatty acids, refined vegetable oils and saturated fats, a majority of individuals have a deficiency of these precious fats.

In terms of food choices, there are now a wide variety of food options available that contain omega-3 fats such as: Flaxseeds (2 tbsps, 3.51 g), Salmon (4 ounces, 2.09 g), Walnuts (0.25 cup, 2.27 g), Soybeans (1 cup, 1 g).

Most grocery stores also carry soymilk, eggs, yogurts and even infant formula now fortified with omega-3 essential fats.

In addition to the foods above, it is highly recommended to supplement with distilled, high-quality fish oil on a daily basis. Adult recommendations range from 1 to 2 grams per day.

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