What is Omega-3?
Omega-3 is a family of anti-inflammatory fatty acids that have crucial benefits for the brain and body. There are different types of omega fats such as omega-9 and also omega-6 (arachidonic acid, linoleic acid) which are generally more pro-inflammatory.
These fats need to be in correct balance within the body. We do require some pro-inflammatory fats to allow our bodies to signal for help when there is an injury that need some attendance. However, anti-inflammatory omega 3 should be prioritised.
Unfortunately, a typical Western diet contains more omega 6, being found in vegetable oils and meats. Omega-9 can be found in almonds, canola and olive oil. Omega-6 and 9 are monounsaturated fatty acids and are considered non-essential as they can be made in the body. The ideal ratio for omega 3, 6 and 9 should be 2:1:1.
What is Alpha-Linolenic Acid?
Alpha linolenic acid is one example of omega-3. It cannot be made within the body and has to be obtained from the diet. Sources include nuts such as walnuts and hazelnuts, flaxseed, organ meats and some vegetables such as broccoli and spinach. It is both fat and water soluble so is able to work throughout the body. Here are some potential uses:
- Anti-inflammatory: It has been shown to reduce high inflammatory markers found in the body such as CRP (C-reactive protein).
- Weight: It may be useful in weight management as it works on AMPK in the brain which helps to suppress appetite.
- Diabetes: Lowers blood sugar levels, and HBA1C levels.
- Reduce signs of ageing: In addition to being an antioxidant itself, it also raises levels of other antioxidants such as glutathione which protects the skin from damage.
What is EPA & DHA?
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) is a long-chain, polyunsaturated omega-3 fat with the most direct health benefits. They are generally found in marine mammals and oily fish. EPA is anti-inflammatory and has been found to reduce common inflammatory markers.
- Anti-inflammatory: The more EPA you have in your diet the lower your omega-6 arachidonic acid (AA) which produces pro-inflammatory eicosanoids in the body. These two fats compete with each other, so EPA is useful in reducing levels of AA in crucial tissue such as the brain. DHA does not have the same ability.
DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) Is another long-chain, polyunsaturated omega-3 fat (like EPA). It is generally found with EPA and in oily fish like salmon and tuna. DHA is found in highest concentrations in the brain, retina and sperm cells. DHA shares many benefits with EPA. Some more benefits include:
- Brain development: DHA is often used to support infants’ brain development and pregnant women. It is also used alone and alongside EPA to support general cognitive maintenance
- Anti-inflammatory: Omega-3 fats like EPA & DHA can correct the pro-inflammatory ratio of Omega-6. DHA Found to reduce inflammation in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Supports eye health: DHA contains anti-apoptotic effects in ageing or degeneration of retina pigment and photoreceptor cells.
- Lowers blood pressure: DHA supports blood flow and circulation and helps the blood vessels to dilate.
- Male fertility: Supports the health and vitality of sperm cells.