You’re certainly one of most people who have heard that omega-3 fatty acids are absolutely essential for good health.
And yet it is not always clear what exactly their benefits are, and more importantly, how to take full advantage of them.
To help you see more clearly and understand why Omega 3s are so important for your body, we’ve prepared a little guide for you!
Omega 3 fatty acids, what are they at juste ?
Omega 3 fatty acids are part of the family of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are necessary for human health, but the body is not capable of making them. This means that you have to get them from your diet.
Omega 3 is a group of fatty acids, which are found in different forms:
- ALA (alpha linolenic acid) ,
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid),
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
Where can you find these omega fatty acids 3 ?
Omega 3s are found in the diet. The foods richest in omega 3 are of different kinds.
ALA is mainly present in plants. The best sources of ALA are vegetable oils (such as linseed oil, walnut oil or perilla oil) but also nuts as well as chia or flax seeds.
Sources of EPA and DHA
EPA and DHA are present in foods of marine origin, including fatty fish (salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, cod liver, sardines, anchovies, etc.).
It should be noted that omega 3s of animal origin are better assimilated by the body than omega 3s of vegetable origin. It is nevertheless advisable to vary these two forms of Omega 3!
What is the recommended intake of omega 3?
The recommended daily allowances are as follows:
- ALA: 2.5 g for a man and 2 g for a woman,
- EPA: 250 mg
- DHA: 250 mg
Is the food enough to cover our needs?
Unfortunately, the diet is often insufficient to cover the full recommended intake of omega 3.
In fact, it is estimated that only one third of the French population complies with the weekly Omega 3 recommendations.
What should the ratio of omega 6 / omega 3 be?
It is essential for our body to obtain omega 6 and omega 3 in the right proportions. In order for this omega 6 / omega 3 ratio to be balanced, we must consume a maximum of 5 times more omega 6 than omega 3.
However, it is estimated that the current trend in Western countries such as France is 20 to 1. Such an imbalance can notably promote obesity as well as cardiovascular and inflammatory disorders.
What explains such an imbalance?
Modern diets favour the consumption of omega 6 to the detriment of omega 3. Foods rich in omega 3 are much less represented in our diet than those concentrated in omega 6.
How do we restore the balance?
To restore the balance between omega 6 and omega 3, it is both recommended to increase one’s intake of omega 3 (omega 3 rich foods, food supplements) and to limit one’s consumption of unbalancing foods that are too rich in omega 6 (sunflower oil for example).
The benefits of omega 3 fatty acids
As we announced at the very beginning, omega 3s are essential for the proper development and functioning of the entire body.
The benefits of omega 3 for the body
Research into the benefits of Omega 3 for the body is still ongoing. However, some discoveries have already been made:
- Omega 3 contributes to normal heart function.
- Omega 3 promotes good blood circulation in the body.
- Omega 3 helps reduce inflammation.
- Omega-3s can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis.
It should be noted that the benefits on cardiovascular health are mainly due to EPA and DHA type omega 3s found in fish oils.
Conversely, a deficiency in omega 3 can have harmful consequences for health. Indeed, a number of studies suggest that omega 3 deficiency could contribute to an increased risk of diabetes and cause skin problems (dry skin, acne…).
The benefits of Omega 3 for the brain
In addition to significant benefits for the body, omega 3 fatty acids are also beneficial for the brain.
- Omega 3 contributes to the proper development of the brain (during pregnancy and early childhood) as well as its proper functioning.
- Omega 3 helps maintain normal vision.
- Omega 3 promotes concentration and memory.
Recent studies also indicate that omega-3s may help combat age-related mental decline and have beneficial effects on depressive disorders and mood.