In the 1970s, researchers discovered an interesting fact about the Greenland Inuit tribe. The people of this tribe had a diet primarily consisting of sea food – due to the nature of the terrain where they lived. As we know, sea food contains high levels of fats. Despite their fat-heavy diet, the Inuit displayed absolutely no symptoms of cardiovascular diseases!
This formed the basis of comprehensive research into the Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish, their composition, and their effects on human health.
So, what are Omega 3 fatty acids exactly?
These are a group of polyunsaturated fats found primarily in fish, and some plant sources like Flaxseed oil. Now, don’t get scared by the word “fats”. It’s only the saturated fats the likes of which are found in butter, cheese, fatty beef etc. that are harmful for your health.
Our bodies do need some amount of fat for proper absorption of nutrients, and unsaturated fats like the one provided by fish are the right kind of fats to take.
Omega 3 fats are also called “essential” fatty acids. By which it means that your body needs them for its proper functioning, but cannot produce them internally by itself. You need to include some external source of these fats in your diet if you are to maintain their optimal levels inside.
Why do we need them?
As we saw, it was not a coincidence or a miracle that the Inuit people kept healthy and safe from cardiovascular diseases despite eating copious amounts of meat (seafood). The omega 3 found inside fish has been proven to be very beneficial for our health.
Cholesterol reduction, prevention of heart attacks, reduction of triglycerides, and improvement in performance of the brain are just a few of the fish oil health benefits you can enjoy. These fats are hands down one of the best and simplest ways of keeping all sorts of health problems at bay, without using any prescription drugs.
Even the F.D.A. has given its approval to omega 3 as a way to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. In fact, this is one of the rare cases where traditional and alternative medicine agree with each other.
Types of Omega 3 fatty acids
There are three main Omega 3 fats you need to know about –
ALA – Alpha Linolenic Acid
DHA – Docosahexanoic Acid, and
EPA – Eicosapentaenoic Acid
Now, DHA and EPA are the most beneficial fats of this group. Even when you take an ALA source like flax seed oil, your body internally breaks it down into DHA and EPA. This process is not very efficient through. Only 5%-25% of ALA gets converted properly and the rest goes waste.
That’s why it’s recommended to directly take DHA and EPA as a regular part of your diet – be it by consuming fish on a regular basis, or through a quality supplement containing purified omega 3 fatty acids in the right proportion for maximum benefits.
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