Fats are vital for health and one fat that you definitely don’t want to ignore is Omega-3 Fatty Acids. So, what’s with all the hype surrounding this powerful nutrient? Let’s get down to the facts and dispel the myths.

What is Omega-3 Fatty Acid?

Omega- 3s are essential saturated fatty acids that are not synthesized by the human body. That is why you need to get them through your diet.  As implied by its name, they contain more than one double bond in their chemical structure and the three omegas are as follows:

  • EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) – EPA is a long-chain fatty acid that is found in oily fish, algae oil and krill oil. Your body is able to synthesize this in its original form and this along with DHA provides a multitude of benefits to the body.
  • DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) – DHA is another long chain omega-3 component that is at times converted to EPA in order to keep both EPA and DHA at equal levels when you happen to consume more of DHA.
  • ALA (Alpha Linolenic Acid) – ALA is a plant-based Omega-3 that is found in green leafy vegetables, flax seeds, chia seeds and canola, walnut and soybean oils. It is a short chain omega that needs to be converted into longer chain EPA and DPA so that the body can use it.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are Vital for Health – Benefits 

Omega 3 fatty acids bring with them a ton of health benefits. Some of the benefits include:

Neurogenesis and Growth of Brain Cells 

The role of EPA and DHA in infant and child development is very crucial in order for their brains and eyes to develop fully and properly. And, that is why breast milk is loaded with omega-3 fats. Those infants who cannot get mother’s milk are given DHA-fortified formula milk for their cognitive development. Studies have proven that Omega-3 intake promotes hippocampus neurogenesis or improved memory and cognitive abilities of the brain.

Healthy Cell Structure and Function

Fatty acids form an important part of cell membranes present within our body and are essential for cellular health. The long-chain EPA and DHA are critical players for a healthy nervous system. The brain cells are made of 60% fat and around 10-15% of that is DHA.

Good for Heart Health 

Omega-3 Fats contribute to lowering the risk of heart disease by decreasing high Triglycerides levels, regulating cholesterol, lowering high blood pressure, preventing Plaque buildup and blood clots and improving metabolism.

Fight Mental Disorders and Cognitive Decline

People battling depression and anxiety-related disorders seem to benefit from the omega-3 intake. In fact, they also help reduce symptoms of ADHD in children by restoring better attention or focus and reducing hyperactivity. Also, high levels of omega-3s in the blood can reverse age-related decline in memory and cognitive skills.

Reduces Inflammation

Inflammation can most of the times be the root cause of any disease and so by eating a nutrient-dense and anti-inflammatory diet, empower your body to keep diseases at bay. Omega-3 Fats can help to reduce inflammation caused by fat accumulation in the liver.

Prevent Autoimmune Diseases and Cancer

When the immune system attacks healthy cells mistaking it to be foreign intruders, it gives rise to autoimmune ailments like type-1 diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis and more. Multiple studies have found a correlation between high omega-3 intake and decreased risk for autoimmune diseases or an improvement in symptoms. Also, it helps to reverse hormonal cancers like Prostate and breast cancers.

Support Healthy Bones and Joints

 These fatty acids help to increase calcium absorption in your body and in-turn help to promote the strength of your bones. It also helps to prevent the development of arthritis with reduced inflammation and healthy bones.

Omega-3 Foods and Sources

There is no official recommendation of how much Omega-3s you should consume daily. However around 1000 milligrams of EPA and DHA is preferable and up to 4000 milligrams can be taken while fighting diseases. Following are the Top 10 sources of Omega-3:


  1.  Mackerel: 6,982 milligrams in 1 cup cooked (174 percent Daily Value)
  2. Walnuts: 2,664 milligrams in 1/4 cup (66 percent Daily Value)
  3. Chia Seeds: 2,457 milligrams in 1 tablespoon (61 percent Daily Value)
  4. Herring: 1,885 milligrams in 3 ounces (47 percent Daily Value)
  5. Alaskan Salmon (wild-caught): 1,716 milligrams in 3 ounces (42 percent Daily Value)
  6. Flaxseeds (ground): 1,597 milligrams in 1 tablespoon (39 percent Daily Value)
  7. Albacore Tuna: 1,414 milligrams in 3 ounces (35 percent Daily Value)
  8. White Fish: 1,363 milligrams in 3 ounces (34 percent Daily Value)
  9. Sardines: 1,363 milligrams in 1 can/3.75 ounce (34 percent Daily Value)
  10. Hemp Seeds: 1,000 milligrams  in 1 tablespoon (25 percent Daily Value)
  11. Anchovies: 951 milligrams in 1 can/2 ounce (23 percent Daily Value)
  12. Natto: 428 milligrams in 1/4 cup (10 percent Daily Value)
  13. Egg Yolks: 240 milligrams in 1/2 cup (6 percent Daily Value)


Keep in mind that ALA omega-3 fat found in vegan sources needs to be converted to EPA/DHA first and the conversion is not that effective. You need to consume larger amounts of vegan sources such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts. Fatty fish and seafood are good sources of EPA and DHA. The other hope is to turn to fish oil such as Cod liver oil and krill oil to get high amounts of Omega-3s in your body.

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