How Omega-3 Fatty Acids Can Maximize Heart and Mental Health – 8 Power Food Sources

How Omega-3 Fatty Acids Can Maximize Heart and Mental Health – 8 Power Food Sources

Today people are inclined towards gaining promising health benefits from their foods. Omega-3 fatty acids is one such important element found in our food on which researches have been going on for decades. How it benefits our body and brain, we shall learn from this story.

Role of Omega-3 fatty acids

This is neither a vitamin nor fall under into essential minerals but still contain incredible health benefits. Omega-3s are specific polyunsaturated fatty acids which are not produced in the body and have to be derived from foods sources. This is one type of fat which we don’t need to cut back.

There are basically three types of Omega-3 fatty acids; ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). The ALA is primarily found in plants, while the DHA and EPA can be found in animal foods and algae. Our body needs Omega-3s them for several reasons. Below mentioned are mentioned some of the benefits:

Heart health

It improves cardiovascular health preventing heart attack and stroke by a huge margin. One study conducted on 11,000 participants showed that consuming certain amount of omega-3 fatty acids over 3.5 years of time reduced heart attacks by 25 percent and sudden death by 45 percent. Omega-3 fatty acids lower high triglycerides, lower blood pressure and regulate good cholesterol.

Prevents depression, anxiety and boost mood

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids on mental health are farfetched. It fights depression and anxiety and various studies have shown that people who consume large amount of it are less likely to get anxious and depressed as compared to those who are deficient. Omega-3 has also shown positive outcomes in disorders such as ADHD, Biopolar, Alzheimer and Schizophrenia.

Reduces inflammation

Inflammation is considered as root of many diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids helps in reducing wide range of inflammation related to muscle, joint pain and bones.

Lowers cancer risk

High consumption of omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to reduction or reversion of breast, colon and prostate cancers. Though, studies are still going on in this field.

Other benefits

The range of other health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • Boosts immunity
  • Stabilizes blood sugar level
  • Treats digestive disorders
  • Sharpens brain and help in concentration
  • Improves skin health

How much should be daily omega-3 intake?

Right from infants and adults, everyone needs Omega-3 fatty acids on a daily basis. According to National Academy of Medicine, below is the dietary intake of different individuals:

Infants

  • From birth to 6 months old – 0.5g/day
  • 7 months to 1 year old – 0.5g/day

Toddler and Children

  • 1-3 years old – 0.7g/day
  • 4-8 years old – 0.9g/day
  • 9-13 years old male – 1.2g/day
  • 9-13 years old female - 1.0g/day

Male adolescent and adults

  • 14-18 years old – 1.6g/day
  • 19 years old and above – 1.6g/day

Female adolescent and adults

  • 14-18 years old – 1.1g/day
  • 19 years old and above – 1.1g/day

Pregnant and breastfeeding women

  • Pregnancy – 1.4g/day
  • Breastfeeding – 1.3g/day

What are the health effects of overdose and deficiency of omega-3?

Every food should be taken in balanced level, that’s the rule of the thumb. Likewise, too much of omega-3 can be harmful for your health. Increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids can increase the LDL cholesterol, create difficulty in controlling blood sugar as well as put a person at the risk of easily bruising or excessive bleeding of an injury occurs. Especially, pregnant women should ask the doctor before consuming certain fishes as the mercury present in these fishes can be harmful for the well-being of the child.

On the contrary, deficiency of this important component would obviously put a person on the risk of getting heart attack, stroke, inflammation, joints and muscle pain, poor brain development, allergies and affects mental health. A person can also fulfil the deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids through supplements, but after consulting the doctor.

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Foods that prevent deficiency of omega-3

If you are taking wholesome and nutritious diet, then there wouldn’t be any problem getting omega-3. However, there are specific foods which are rich omega-3 and can cover up the deficiency, if have.

Non-veg foods

Mackerel

Mackerel (bangra) is super-rich source of getting omega-3 fatty acids. The fish is incredibly rich in nutrients containing ample quantity of vitamin B12 and selenium.

Dietary intake - 100 grams of cooked mackerel contains about 5g of omega-3 fatty acids, which is more than three times the daily requirement.

Salmon fish

Also known as rawas in India, the salmon fish besides packed with healthy protein and selenium, contains high amount of omega-3 fatty acids.

Dietary intake – 100 grams of cooked salmon contains about 2.2g of omega-3, which is almost 150 percent of daily dietary intake.

Sardine

Another fish to get the most omega-3 fatty acid is sardine (tarli). This small oily fish is a common starter or delicacy in various countries. Besides, you will find vitamin D, B12 and selenium in rich quantity.

Dietary intake – 100 grams of sardines will give you about 1.5g of omega-3 fatty acids, which is again more than what is required daily.

Veg foods

Walnuts

These nuts have plenty of benefits besides giving you healthy amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts come loaded with copper, sulfur, protein and are among the best anti-aging foods on the planet.

Dietary intake – 7 walnuts will give you 2.5g of omega-3 content, more than double of the daily dietary value.

Soybeans

The top vegetable protein on the planet, soybean is also loaded with fiber, vitamin K, folate, potassium, magnesium and a lots of omega-3 fatty acids as well.

Dietary intake – half cup of lightly roasted soybean will give you 1.2g of omega-3, more than what is required by a female adult.

Chia seeds

Filled with magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and other vital nutrients, consuming chia seeds can be a good choice for omega-3 deficients.

Dietary intake – 14g chia seeds contain about 2.5g of omega-3 fatty acids.

Flaxseeds

Called as Alsi ke beej, flaxseeds are brown/yellow seeds which is often used to make oil or milled for consumption. Flaxseeds are excellent whole food source of omega-3 fatty acids containing fiber, vitamin E and magnesium.

Dietary intake – 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil gives 2.3g of omega-3 content, which is double the requirement of a female adult.

Kidney beans

One of the most common delicacies in India, kidney beans has immense health benefits. A rich source of dietary fiber, phosphorus and iodine, you get plenty of omega-3 as well.

Dietary intake – half cup of kidney beans contains 0.10g of omega-3 fatty acids.

Takeaway

In most cases, you will get required omega-3 fatty acids from a combination of healthy nutritious diet. And it’s relatively easier to get this nutrient. But in case you are one of those who is deficient in this component, talk to your doctor and prepare a good diet plan.

Sources

1. Omega-3 fatty acids and heart attack. read more
2. Dietary Intake Factsheet. read more
3. Omega-3 and breast cancer. 
read more
4. Inflammation and omega-3 fatty acids. read more