You have probably heard that you can benefit from omega-3 supplements or a diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but you may not know just why these acids are vital to the human body. Firstly, it is important to note that they are polyunsaturated fats, and so they are quite unlike the saturated fats that promote dangerously narrowed arteries. You can get plenty of omega-3s from fish (especially sardines and salmon), walnuts, soybeans and flax seeds, but it is thought that a staggering 99% of the American population is deficient in omega-3s. Read on to discover ten significant and surprising reasons why a higher intake of omega-3s could help to boost your health and improve your quality of life.
1) They are good for your heart:
People who consume plenty of omega-3s generally have higher levels of HDL (i.e. ‘good’ cholesterol), which boosts cardiovascular health. In addition, a group of credible studies supports the claim that a diet rich in omega-3s can lead to a reduction in high blood pressure. Specifically, consuming at least three grams of fish oil each day appears to lower blood pressure in patients who are not taking any medication for their hypertension. As a result of these links between omega-3s and heart health, a high intake of these fatty acids substantially lowers your risk of developing hardened arteries and heart disease. Finally, fish oil has also been shown to reduce the frequency of uncomfortable heart palpitations.
2) They keep your cell membranes healthy:
Cell membranes are the fatty barriers that make sure that all of your cells can get rid of toxic waste and receive the right amount of nutrients. Eating food that is rich in omega-3s helps to ensure that these membranes are healthy enough to keep water and nutrients inside the cells. In contrast, a diet that is too high in saturated fats will promote overly rigid cell membranes that do not function in the way that they should.
3) They reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes:
Studies show that those who do not have enough omega-3s in their daily diet are more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes. It is thought that this may be because people with this form of diabetes often have high triglyceride levels, and omega-3s help to lower these levels.
4) They lower your risk of developing cancer:
A recent research project has revealed that cell membranes that incorporate plenty of omega-3s can help to protect cells against carcinogenic mutations. In particular, there is strong evidence that the risk of breast cancer is significantly reduced. Additional studies on animals have supported this conclusion, so if you are a woman who consumes plenty of omega-3s then you are substantially lowering your risk of developing breast cancer. In addition, tests on mice with breast cancer have shown that a diet high in omega-3s slows the growth of cancerous tumors by up to 25%.
5) They have an anti-inflammatory influence:
Several trials have proven that people who start a diet rich in omega-3s soon experience a decline in the amount of pro-inflammatory chemicals in their blood. This means that you are particularly likely to benefit from the powers of omega-3s if you happen to suffer from arthritis, asthma, or other inflammatory diseases. Even if you do not have these illnesses, if you do not have enough omega-3s in your diet then you are much more likely to suffer from problems such as morning stiffness and joint pain.
6) They can help you to stay slim:
If you are struggling to lose weight, omega-3 supplements may be able to help. This is because a high intake of omega-3s encourages your body to produce a hormone called leptin, which appears to have a profound influence on your metabolism and body weight.
7) They lower your risk of developing unwanted blood clots:
Omega-3s are vital for the production of certain hormones called prostaglandins, and one relevant form of these hormones is associated with improved blood flow and a reduced tendency to develop deep vein thrombosis (i.e. dangerous blood clots in your large blood vessels).
8. They improve concentration:
Studies have shown that people who do not have enough omega-3s in their diet can have poor focus and tend to suffer from an inability to concentrate for long periods of time.
9) They can help to improve your looks:
If you do not consume enough omega-3s, you will develop thinner, more brittle hair and nails. In addition, people who eat plenty of foods that are rich in omega-3s also tend to have younger looking skin, as these fatty acids promote a healthy glow.
10) They can reduce the severity of menstrual cramps:
One study of over forty menstruating women found that the majority reported less period pain when they were taking fish oil supplements (as opposed to a placebo).
As is obvious from the above health benefits of consuming plenty of omega-3s, these fatty acids are extremely important to your physical well-being. However, if you suffer from a bleeding disorder or take blood thinning medication (such as warfarin), then you should be cautious about taking omega-3 supplements. This is because there is some evidence that high levels of omega-3s can increase the risk of hemorrhage in such individuals.