Over the past decade we all have heard about the benefits by consuming healthy nutrients, fiber and fats in our diet, especially hot topic are Omega-3 fatty acids either from fish, plants or algae. And the conversation hasn’t died down at all, in fact interest and research continues and more fascinating facts arise particularly about essential fatty acids. Beyond the skin, nervous system, ocular and cardiovascular benefits, essential fatty acids, mainly omega-3s, are being studied for respiratory, digestive, immune, skeletal, reproductive and other hormonal roles.
Some of these important findings are already outlined by the National Institute for Health:
• The polyunsaturated fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and linoleic acid (LA) must come from the diet because they cannot be made by the body. ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid, is converted in the body to the fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). LA, an omega-6 fatty acid, is converted to the fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA).
• Most American diets provide more than 10 times as much omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids. There is general agreement that individuals should consume more omega-3 and less omega-6 fatty acids to promote good health. Good sources of ALA are leafy green vegetables, nuts, and vegetable oils such as canola, soy, and especially flaxseed. Good sources of EPA and DHA are fish and organ meats. LA is found in many foods, including meat, vegetable oils (e.g., safflower, sunflower, corn, soy), and processed foods made with these oils.
• According to both primary and secondary prevention studies, consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, fish, and fish oil reduces all-cause mortality and various CVD (cardiovascular disease) outcomes such as sudden death, cardiac death, and myocardial infarction. The evidence is strongest for fish and fish oil supplements.
• Animal and isolated organ/cell culture studies demonstrate that omega-3 fatty acids affect cellular functions involved in ensuring a normal heart rate and coronary blood flow.
• Fish oils can lower blood triglyceride levels in a dose-dependent manner. Fish oils have a very small beneficial effect on blood pressure and possible beneficial effects on coronary artery restenosis after angioplasty and exercise capacity in patients with coronary atherosclerosis.
• Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce joint tenderness and need for corticosteroid drugs in rheumatoid arthritis.
It is interesting learning that our food may not only affect our bodies, such as inflammation or pain, but improve our situation: flexibility or blood flow, nourish cells and vision and help us to feel better or uplifted, and can truly improve quality of life. Nonetheless, amazingly a healthy diet isn’t the first priority for many. Instead so many still choose unhealthy fats, sugars and stimulants to feel good or satisfied. People still eat too many calories, unhealthy fats and refined, artificial ingredients then later find health problems arise, not to overlook obesity, while not making any connection to lifestyle or diet. This includes our children!
The message by many experts, nutritionist and practitioners today includes holistic, complimentary perspectives for improved health and quality of life. Nutrition and a healthy digestive system are at the core of holistic health to allow the whole body to receive proper nourishment and attention. Alongside a healthy diet, a good daily multivitamin/mineral compliments nutritional needs, and essential fatty acids are now a regular part of the conversation for overall health benefits, whole body wellness and nourishment. It truly is very exciting to consider one simple food choice, or many can actually benefit all cells, all systems, and play a holistic role in overall wellness.
To learn more about essential fatty acids and omega-3 nutrition and potential health benefits, here are some helpful links:
- www.nih.gov (National Institute of Health)
- www.heart.org (American Heart Association)
- References on http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcidsandHealth/