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Time and again, I have emphasized that omega-3 fats are essential to your overall health.

Omega-3 fatty acids are very important fats that we must get from the diet but the modern diet is severely lacking in them.

Most people don’t really know what they are. In this article, I will explain what omega-3 fatty acids are, how they work and what are the benefits.

What is Omega-3?

Omega-3 is short for omega-3 fatty acid. This is a family of essential fatty acids that play important roles in the human body. Omega-3 comes from both animal and plant sources, most notably from krill oil and fish oil. SomeOmega-3 are made within the body while others are absorbable through different food sources. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids that are derived from foods:

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a-Linolenic acid (ALA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids that are made within body: 

Stearadonic acid (SDA), Eicosatetraienoic acid (ETA), Docosapentaenoic acid {DPA (n-3)}, Tetracosapentaenoic acid  and Tetracosahexaenoic acid.

The top 3 most functional Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 

There are several types of known fatty acids. However,in Omega-3 category –3 are the most functional and effective. The other fatty acids like Stearadonic acid (SDA) and Eicosatetraienoic acid (ETA)are derivatives of the following 3 main fatty acids. The remaining fatty acids are made within the body using these three.

(1) a-Linolenic acid (ALA)
(2) Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
(3) Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

What Omega-3 Fatty Acids do?

Just like all other basic nutrients and micronutrients, dietary fats are also considered essential to execute digestive functions properly. Fatty acids play a vital role in running several neurological (brain functions). It is particularly important for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers to get enough DHA. It can affect the future health and intelligence of the baby.

They also play structural roles in retina of the eyes and cardiovascular (heart health) functions. Omega-3 fatty acids can have protective effects against all sorts of diseases. This includes breast cancer, depression, ADHD, as well as various inflammatory diseases.

Scientifically Proven Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

- Provide relief in symptoms of Depression & Anxiety.
- Keeps your skin nourished and hair strong
- Can improve blood circulation, heart rate, eye-sight and brain health. 
- Helps to minimize signs and symptoms of aging and mental decay.
- Helps in reducing the symptoms of Metabolic syndrome and ADHD (like; impulsivity, hyperactivity &inattention) in children. 
- Significantly lowers the risk of breast, colon & prostate cancers. 
- Provide strength to fight against inflammation and autoimmune diseases (arthritis, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis). 

Top 10 Food Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Although, awareness regarding Omega-3’s is getting sensational response from all communities but knowledge of the foods that are rich in Omega-3’s is somehow still limited. Here is a list of top 10 foods that are high in Omega-3’s:

1. Flaxseed Oil & Seeds: 106817mg  (Omega-3 per 100gms), 202100mg (Omega-3 per Cup - 190gms)
2. Salman Fish Oil: 38105mg (Omega-3 per 100gms), 72400mg (Omega-3 per Cup - 190gms)
3. Chia Seeds: 35660mg  (Omega-3 per 100gms), 67754mg (Omega-3 per Cup - 190gms)
4. Walnuts & Walnuts Oil: 9080mg  (Omega-3 per 100gms), 17252mg (Omega-3 per Cup - 190gms)
5. Caviar Fish Roe: 6820mg (Omega-3 per 100gms), 12958mg (Omega-3 per Cup - 190gms)
6. Cured Smoked Salmon: 3010mg (Omega-3 per 100gms), 5719mg (Omega-3 per Cup - 190gms)
7. Mackerel (Salt water Fish): 2948mg (Omega-3 per 100gms), 5600mg (Omega-3 per Cup - 190gms)
8. Oysters (Seafood): 1648mg (Omega-3 per 100gms), 3131mg (Omega-3 per Cup - 190gms)
9. Roasted (Soy Beans): 1694mg (Omega-3 per 100gms), 2914mg (Omega-3 per Cup - 190gms)
10. Cooked or Boiled Spinach: 371mg (Omega-3 per 100gms), 704mg (Omega-3 per Cup - 190gms)

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Written by Sapna Vyas Patel , PhD in Nutrition Science and Dietetics
Sapna writes simple, easy to understand articles that are based on pure scientific evidence. She is one of the most popular fitness professionals in India and is followed on social media by fitness enthusiasts, nutritionists, dieticians, doctors, trainers, and professionals.

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