by Tracey Pollack
For far too long in our diet-obsessed culture, fats left a bad taste in our mouths. But the good news is that certain fats are now seen as more friend than foe, possessing many essential benefits for your body and your brain. The fats worthy of this fame are called omega-3 essential fatty acids. You’ll find that they’ve truly earned their name because along with being essential for good health, your body doesn’t produce them on its own and you have to get them from other sources. The three types of omega-3s are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). These fats are found in many foods, with EPA and DHA in fatty fish like salmon, herring, sardines and tuna. Yet ALA comes from plant foods like walnuts, flaxseeds, hemp and chia seeds. So get a taste of why omega-3s are such a healthy essential to add to your diet.
Improves Your Immunity
While no one is immune from getting sick, omega-3 fatty acids can increase your chance of staying healthy. See, these essential fatty acids help strengthen your immune system, so your body is better able to fight off illness and infections. Along with supporting a strong immune response by enhancing how your immune cells function, omega-3s also help reduce the inflammation that can build up in your body and cause damage and disease. This makes omega-3s a healthy addition to your diet and your life.
Unbeatable Heart Protection
There’s a lot to love to about omega-3 fatty acids, but one of the best reasons to embrace them is for the ways they help your heart. These fatty acids can help reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering your blood pressure and slightly raising your (good) HDL cholesterol levels. They also decrease the amount of plaque that can build up in your arteries and lead to heart attack and stroke. With all of their cardiovascular benefits, you’ll want to take omega-3s to heart.
Betters Your Brain
Another reason to keep omega-3s in mind is for how they keep your brain at its best. That’s because these essential fatty acids play a vital role in your brain’s function and development all throughout your life. They essentially preserve the health of your brain cells by reducing the inflammation that can build up in the brain and lead to problems with cognition, focus, learning, mental performance and memory. In fact, research has shown that omega-3s may help protect against dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive concerns as you age. Omega-3s are simply a good idea for a better brain.
Good Mood Boosters
If you’ve been feeling stress or depressed lately, you’ll be happy to learn that omega-3 fatty acids can put a smile back on your face. Studies have shown that people with a higher intake of omega-3s were less likely to suffer from anxiety, depression and mood disorders. And people who already struggled with these conditions greatly improved their symptoms when they upped their intake of omega-3s. Now those are benefits that should put you in a good mood!
Healthier Eyes in Sight
Keep an eye out for omega-3s because they can help protect your vision. See, omega-3 fatty acids are the main structural component of the retina of your eye. Research has revealed that a diet rich in omega-3s can help keep your eyes healthy and reduce your risk of developing glaucoma and macular degeneration, while also relieving the discomfort of dry eyes.
Whether you get these essential fatty acids from the sea or from the garden, good things come in omega-3s!