Chances are that you have heard of Omega-3s, and you likely also know that they're good for you.
They help fight depression and anxiety. They can improve your eye and heart health and they fight inflammation.
You probably also have a pretty good idea of what foods are high in Omega-3s:
- Fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines and herring
- Cod liver oil
- Chia seeds
But did you know that there are many different types of Omega-3s and that they are not all the same?
There are 11 different types, but DHA, EPA and ALA are the three most important.
Omega-3s are fatty acids. DHA and EPA come from animals and ALA comes from plants. Our bodies do not make any of them, so we can only get them from the things that we eat.
When we don’t have enough Omega-3s in our diet we are at risk for many health problems. Let’s look at each of the top 3 Omega-3s to get a better understanding of what they are, where they come from, and why they're good for us.
Breaking Down the Top 3 Omega-3 Fatty Acids
DHA stands for “Docosahexaenoic Acid.” It is what makes up our skin and our eyes, and is important for both brain development in babies and brain function in adults.
Having enough DHA in our diets helps us control our blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It lowers triglycerides and LDL. It also fights inflammation, making cancer less of a risk.
It is mostly found in seafood, but it is also found in algae and some grass-fed animals.
EPA stands for “Eicosapentaenoic Acid.” It is not a building block like DHA is. Instead, it helps our body to create signals to perform certain functions.
The most important function is to reduce inflammation, which can cause pain and disease. EPA in our diet helps to fight depression and hot flashes during perimenopause and menopause.
Like DHA, EPA is mostly found in seafood like herring and salmon.
ALA stands for “Alpha-linolenic Acid.” It is the Omega-3 that we eat the most of, but our bodies don’t use it as well.
We convert a small amount of the ALA that we eat into EPA or DHA. The ALA that we do not change to EPA or DHA gets stored or used as energy.
Studies have linked ALA to reduced risk of heart disease.
We get ALA from plant foods. Chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds and their oils are high in ALA. Kale and walnuts are too.
The best and healthiest source of Omega-3s is fresh fish.Tweet
What Science Tells Us
- One study showed that people between the ages of 60 and 80 who ate fish more than two times a week were half as likely to develop macular degeneration as those who ate no fish at all.
- Another showed that people between the ages of 65 and 94 who ate fish at least once a week were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who ate none.
- And a study of Swedish men who ate fish had a lower risk of developing prostate cancer than those who didn’t.
- Women who were past menopause who ate fish two or more times per week had healthier arteries than those who ate less.
Does all this leave you hungry for a fish dinner? Me too! Here's one of my favorite Easy Honey Salmon Foil Recipes.
Yours in health and happiness,
P.S. Please share this with your friends and I welcome your comments below.