There are many essential things we take up daily to get energy and a healthy body. One such thing is the fatty acids. The normal human diet contains a wide range of fatty acids. These are present from fats and oils that are consumed either separately as butter or cooking oil. When it comes to Omega-3 fatty acids, there are two crucial ones, EPA and DHA. These are primarily found in certain fish. And another one in ALA which is found in plant sources like nuts and seeds.
These three important omega-3 fatty acids are also biochemically connected because the body can interconvert between the three: ALA is converted to EPA and then DHA, and back again. This has given rise to the assumption that consuming one type of fatty acid (particularly ALA from plant-based oils) is enough to meet requirements for all three.
Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty acids
- The omega-3 fatty acids are essential for heart health. In addition to that replacing saturated fatty acids with either mono- or polyunsaturated fat will lower cholesterol.
- Research has identified that EPA (eicosapentaenoic) and DHA (docosahexaenoic), the omega-3s found in marine oils, are the two most important fatty acids in human health.
- Consuming enough EPA and DHA omega-3s is important for general health across the lifespan.
- EPA and DHA are most easily obtained from consuming cold-water fish—like salmon and tuna—or from taking purified supplements made from fish oil.
- In general, omega-3s have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body while omega-6s have a pro-inflammatory effect. Both omega-3s and omega-6s are needed for optimal health but they need to be in balance. Too much omega-6 in relation to omega-3 has a negative effect on health; we can help restore the balance by consuming EPA and DHA omega-3s.
- Many countries and health organizations around the world recommend consumption of at least 500mg EPA and DHA per day.
- Depending on one’s diet and family history, doctors and dietitians often recommend consuming more omega-3s.
- EPA and DHA are healthy fats that everyone needs. Pregnant moms and developing babies have a special need for omega-3s.