The Magic of Omega 3
For the longest time fats have got a bad reputation and are considered artery-clogging and fattening.
However just like there are good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates, there are good fats and bad fats too.
There is a reason why fat is classified as a macro nutrient and nearly every single cell in our body needs fats to function the right way.
Composition of our brain
Our brain is largely composed of fat, hormones are made from fat, certain key vitamins like A, D, E, K are absorbed by the body in the presence of fat.
So chasing a fat-free diet can be downright dangerous for our health – right from skin and hair health, ageing process, hormonal imbalance, lack of satiety from meals, energy and much more.
Amongst all kinds of fats, there is one in particular that is of great nutritive as well as therapeutic value.
Also read: 5 signs: You need a Vitamin D test
That is omega 3 fatty acid (FA).
There are three kinds of Omega 3 FA – ALA, EPA and DHA.
While ALA comes mostly from plants, nuts and seeds, DHA and EPA come from fatty fish.
Our brain is almost 60 per cent fat and half of that comprises the Omega 3 kinds.
This nutrient is used to build brain and nerve cells, and is responsible for cognitive memory and overall brain function.
It also helps keep brain inflammation in check thereby being one of the necessary nutrients in managing and preventing cases of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy.
A deficiency of this nutrient is linked to learning impairment, depression and poor memory and is even associated with depression and anxiety cases.
It is also used in cases of schizophrenia and other mental disorders because it is nutrition for the brain and nervous system.
Omega 3 holds the potential to protect nerve damage and helps them regenerate.
Omega 3 plays a big role in healing our heart and the cardiovascular system.
It helps boost HDL (good cholesterol), lowers LDL and triglycerides (bad cholesterol) and helps reduce chances of heart stroke and inflammation in the heart.
It helps repair the endothelial linings of artery walls that are damaged due to various lifestyle factors, especially smoking.
Chronic inflammation can contribute to almost any illness known today, right from obesity to cancer.
Omega 3 plays a vital role in calming down the body’s inflammatory responses and oxidative stress.
A fat-deprived diet can play havoc on our hormonal health.
Hence all fad diets that ask you to go fat-free can be dangerous for your hormonal health because they lack the key nutrient that helps manufacture hormones.
Also read: How to prevent Vitamin C deficiency
Eyes, skin and hair
Omega 3, specifically DHA, helps form the structural component of the retina in our eyes and hence its deficiency can affect vision and possibly cause macular degeneration and other vision impairment issues.
It is also responsible for a healthy skin and gives it the soft, moist, supple, wrinkle-free appearance.
It works as a natural sunblock as it safeguards the skin from damage due to excessive and inappropriate exposure.
Cellular health and energy
Omega 3 is crucial when it comes to cellular health and energy.
It is what makes up the cell membrane and its deficit can affect the overall functioning of a cell.
As for energy levels, even a one per cent decrease in Omega 3 in your body can cause tiredness and continual low energy levels.
Consult your health care provider before introducing any of the discussed foods into your lifestyle
Also read: Vit-D ‘cure’ for Indian women: Study
Omega 3 can be obtained from both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian sources.
In Non-veg food:
However the primary source is fatty fish like salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring.
In veg food:
it is found mostly in nuts and seeds like flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds.
Marine algae also provides Omega 3, especially DHA and that is how fish get them too.
There is also an option of a good quality Omega 3 or a fish oil supplement in case food sources don’t suffice
Oils rich in Omega 3 like flaxseed are not suitable for high heat cooking as they are extremely sensitive to heat exposure.
They are best consumed raw.
-by Luke Coutinho
Holistic Lifestyle Coach-Integrative Medicine