Omega-3 Fatty Acids & Associated Health Benefits
Omega-3 Fatty acids are commonly taken to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. There are two primary types of Omega-3 acids, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA plays a large role in neurological development and increased levels of DHA have been linked to decreased progression of age related macular degeneration. Increased EPA is associated with moderately decreased high blood pressure, decreased triglyceride levels and increased HDL levels. One study showed that an increased consumption of EPA reduced the risk of major coronary events by 18% over a five year period. Studies also strongly suggest that an increased consumption of Omega-3 fatty acid decreases joint inflammation which can reduce pain often caused by arthritis.
As a dietary supplement, Omega-3 acid is ideal for patients whose joints are inflamed and are unable to maintain a healthy weight. An increased consumption of Omega-3 acids will allow these patients to improve their cardiovascular health and decrease the inflammation on weight bearing joints.
Omega-3 acids are considered dietary supplements by the EPA so they are safe for healthy individuals to include in their diet. Omega-3 acid has only a few minor gastric side effects for healthy individuals.
Large amounts of Omega-3 acids can be found in fish and some nuts. Flaxseed has an especially high amount of Omega-3 acids although there is some concern that flaxseed and it’s oil may not have as much of the desired benefits as fish oil.
Adapted from materials provided by Mayo Clinic.