Omega-3 fatty acids have become extremely popular for the many benefits they provide for your mind, body, and overall health. But what are omega-3 fatty acids and why does everyone need them?
Omega-3 fatty acids are known as essential fatty acids and the three most important are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). As the name suggests, they are essential because your cells require a steady stream of healthy fats to support the body’s many functions. While we’re often told that fats are bad for our health, omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats that are actually good for you. But your body can’t naturally produce them, so you need to get these healthy fats from food or supplements. By feeding yourself and your cells these healthy fats, then your cells can function properly and maintain your good health.
There are a wide variety of health benefits associated with omega-3 fatty acids. They play a critical role in brain function and are vital for memory and cognitive performance. As natural anti-inflammatories, omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the inflammation that leads to many diseases, as well as help athletes improve their physical recovery and mental performance. Research has shown that proper amounts of omega-3 fatty acids can also provide protection from many health conditions, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Alzheimer’s disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Joint pain
To enjoy these healthy benefits, you need to get enough omega-3 fatty acids through food or supplements. The best dietary sources include:
- Flax seeds
- Flaxseed oil
- Grass-fed beef
- Collard greens
- Winter squash
While it’s ideal to get your omega-3 fatty acids through food because the best sources contain other important nutrients, an alternative way is through high-quality supplements. Most supplements contain fish oil, but vegetarian options are also available. Since the proper amount of omega-3 fatty acids varies by age and health conditions, ask your physician for the right dosage for you.
Omega-3 fatty acids have proven their power to keep your body functioning well and provide protection from diseases. Since these essential fatty acids offer so many healthy benefits, it’s easy see why they’re literally essential.
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