Your body needs omega-3s to function properly, but most Americans are lacking these important fatty acids. Here’s why that’s a problem for immunity, brain health and more.
Tag: fatty acids
You’ve probably heard about the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, but what do you know about DHA? Learn all about why this nutrient is important for brain development from Amanda Williams, MPH.
For years, heath experts have been touting the benefits of fats from fish, and rightfully so. Fish and other seafood are considered the best source of fats from the Omega-3 family, which includes the fatty acids EPA and DHA. Most people do not get nearly enough Omega-3 fats in their diet, and as a result, miss a significant opportunity to protect their heart, brain and manage inflammation throughout the body. Most people also eat a disproportionate amount of Omega-6 fats, which are already plentiful in our diets. Poor quality diets loaded with processed foods tend to be excessive in Omega-6 fats, like corn, canola and soybean oil, margarine, mayonnaise and shortening.
While it was once thought that these vegetable oils were good for the heart, there is strong evidence that too much of these processed industrial vegetable fats can lead to or worsen heart disease. The British Medical Journal recently published a meta-analysis using research from the Sydney Diet Heart Study, a single blinded, parallel group, randomized controlled trial conducted in 1966-1973. The study involved 458 men aged 30-59 who had a recent coronary event like angina (chest pain) or a heart attack, who were divided into two groups – one group was instructed to reduce saturated fat intake to less than 10% of caloric intake, while increasing intake of linoleic acid from safflower oil (a fat rich in Omega-6 and devoid of Omega-3) to 15% of energy intake. These recommendations are in accordance with dietary recommendations from the American Heart Association. The control group received no dietary advice and both groups were followed for 39 months. The Omega-6 group had a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease during the over three years the research was conducted, compared with 11% in the control group1. The Omega-6 group also had a higher risk of death from all causes. The researchers stated with great emphasis that there was significant need to rethink the dietary advice to substitute saturated fat for vegetable oils. Omega-6 fats build the molecules that our immune system uses to turn on inflammatory responses and tend to contribute to chronic diseases. They are especially damaging for the cardiovascular system, as inflammation is the root of heart disease.
What is unparalleled for cardiovascular wellness is excellent intake of Omega-3 fats, while reducing Omega-6 fats. Healthy ratios of Omega-6 to Omega-3 are at least 3:1. However, many Americans consume a diet with an Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio closer to 20:1 or even 50:1. One of the best ways to protect your heart (and your brain, eyes, joints, GI tract and the rest of your body) is to take an Omega 3 fatty acid supplement. Until recently, most supplements that provided direct sources of EPA and DHA (the beneficial Omega-3 fats) came from fish oils, commonly sourced from sardine, anchovy and mackerel. While these sources are excellent, there is a new source of EPA and DHA that is superb. It is the Alpha Omega-3 called krill oil. Krill are tiny shrimp-like crustaceans (sea animals) and despite their small size, are likely the most abundant species of animals on the planet.2 Like fish oil, krill oil contains EPA and DHA.
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