What are omega-3 fatty acids and are fish oils good for us?

Here are some FAQs and answers.

We know: All About Omega-3 and Fish Oil

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that are important to your body in maintaining good health. They are a form of polyunsaturated fat that you must get from food because the body does not produce it.

What foods contain omega-3 fatty acids?

Two of the most helpful fatty acids are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These acids are found in oily fish, particularly tuna, salmon and mackerel.

Some other helpful omega-3 fatty acids including ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) are found in plants, not fish. ALA is found in some vegetable oils and in flaxseed oil and walnuts.

Why are omega-3 fatty acids so good for the body?

Scientists have found that omega-3 fatty acids are good for the heart and lower the death rate from heart attacks. Other effects of these acids include anti-inflammatory and anti-blood clotting actions, lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and reducing blood pressure.

There is also evidence that omega-3 fatty acids may also reduce the symptoms and risks of diabetes, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, some cancers, and mental decline.

How much fish should I eat per week?

The American Heart Association recommends that a healthy adult eat two servings of oily fish a week. If you already have heart disease or elevated levels of triglycerides in your body, you may want even more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.

How much plant omega-3 oil is good for me?

The Institute of Medicine recommends at least a gram of ALA a day, which is found in plants like walnuts, flax seeds and canola oil.

What about omega-3 supplements?

There is evidence that fish oil pills and capsules also provide heart protection. If you can't eat fish oil, there is a supplement extracted from algae that contains DHA, although that's only one of the helpful acids.

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