How have you been?? Being a part of today’s fitness arena I am sure you would have heard about Omega 3 fatty acids. The medical shops are flooded with these supplements and so are TV commercials. Let us delve deeper and understand what they are, how important they are and what kinds of food are rich in them.
So climb on board and fasten your seat belts. Just joking!
Why Are Omega 3 Fatty Acids Important
If you are getting scared of the word ‘fat’ then let me tell you this is one kind of fat that will do good and not harm you in any way.
Omega-3s belong to a broader group of fats called polyunsaturated fats. The specific members of this group are called polyunsaturated fatty acids, or PUFAs. ( This reminds me of a TV commercial of a refined oil saying that it is enriched with PUFAs).
Omega 3 fatty acids include : ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA(docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA(eicosapentaenoic acid). Difficult chemical names right??
ALA is a simpler fatty acid when compared to the others. Without any doubt our bodies need ALA, EPA, and DHA to stay healthy, and we need to consume ALA-containing foods because our bodies lack the ability to make ALA.
Our body can take ALA and use it to produce energy for our cells. Most of the ALA that we consume gets used in generating energy. ALA is also the primary building block for EPA and DHA which are the other fatty acids.
So in a nutshell, ALA –
- Is meant to be used as an energy source
- Plays a critical role in the health of many body systems as the major building block for EPA and DHA.
Foods rich in ALA
Plant oils are known to be rich in ALA, Even meat and dairy products provide ALA. Some of the foods are as follows:
- Greens like spinach
- green beans
- mustard seeds),
- and fruits like strawberries and, raspberries
EPA helps in the proper functioning of the inflammatory system. The risk of excessive inflammation and inflammation-related disease can be lowered through consumption of foods rich in EPA.
DHA ( remember the TV ad??) is needed for the proper functioning of the nervous system and the brain. I was surprised to know that our brain is 60% fat by weight, and DHA makes up an average of 15 to 20% of all fat in our brain. So, it is such an important constituent of the brain. Drops in brain DHA levels are known to be linked with slower neurological development in children.
Food sources of EPA and DHA
- Fish is the best food source of both EPA and DHA.
- Milk and eggs can also contain a contributory amount.
Now let us find out why there is a low omega 3 intake:
- Low intake of nuts and seeds. This can be rectified by eating walnuts and seeds like flaxseeds.
- Infrequent intake of fish, especially fish richer in omega-3s like salmon, and/or sardines. Vegans too can face a problem.
But every problem has a solution. Nowadays you will find super markets stocked up with omega 3 fortified food products. You can make your own choice as to what u like, especially the vegans out there.
So, I hope this article has been useful.
Stay fit and healthy.
P. S – If you are a vegetarian and can’t have fish oil capsules, you can use Omega 3 Fatty Acids vegetarian supplement. I am linking the one I use here. Use code “TOPZEN26” for availing discount. – Love Tarun
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