Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

More than likely you’ve heard of them or read about omega-3 fatty acids. They are encouraged by registered dietitians and health organizations because they have several health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat, which is a healthier fat, and they are essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids cannot be made in the body, so they need to be acquired from food sources. Omega-3 fatty acids also are important for brain function and normal growth and development, along with several other health benefits.

High Blood Pressure

There have been several human clinical trials that have reported small decreases in blood pressure with omega-3 fatty acids. However, high doses of omega-3 fatty acids could be necessary on a daily basis to get this result. The American Heart Association recommends that capsule forms of omega-3 fatty acids should be taken only with consultation with a physician, and patients consuming more than 3g of omega-3 fatty acids in capsule form should do so only under the supervision of a physician, due to a risk of bleeding.

High Triglycerides

Several clinical human trials have shown strong evidence that omega-3 fatty acids from fish or fish oil supplements significantly reduce blood triglyceride levels, depending on the dose. Fish oil supplements have shown small increases in good cholesterol levels but also have shown increases in bad cholesterol. Since it is important not to take high doses of omega-3 fatty acids, a physician or health-care professional should be consulted.

Heart Health

According to the American Heart Association omega-3 fatty acids can be helpful in maintaining heart health as well as for people who already have cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association reports that research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) which can lead to sudden death, and decrease the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque, which is fat deposited in the arteries of the heart. Omega-3 fatty acids should preferably come from food sources, such as fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna. The American Heart Association recommends consuming at least two servings a week of these types of fish. A serving size is 3-1/2 oz. of cooked fish or 3/4 cup of flaked fish.

About this Author

Paragi Mehta is a registered dietitian and creator of Healthfulfilling.com, a nutrition, health and wellness site. She is also a freelance writer, and has been published in print magazines in the Dallas area. She is a graduate of Kansas State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics, and has practiced in areas of acute care, public health, consulting and education.