What Are Omega Fats
In recent years, the omega fats have received a great deal of attention in scientific literature for their impact on overall health. But, what is omega fats? They are essential nutrients called polyunsaturated fatty acids. There are three types, omega 3, omega 6, and omega 9, and they must be obtained from foods because the body cannot produce omega fatty acid in significant amounts.
Omega Fat Benefits
The benefits of the omega fatty acid group are numerous, although some benefits have not received the full endorsement of the scientific community. Omega fatty acids are important to brain and vision development, and they are an essential part of breast milk and baby formulas. There is good evidence that omega 3 can treat or even prevent certain cardiovascular diseases and other heart conditions such as hardening of the arteries, poor heart function, and heart attacks. Other studies have shown that omega fatty acids can reduce the risk of certain cancers such as prostate and breast cancer and can slow the growth rate of cancers that have formed. Arthritis sufferers have also benefited from omega supplements. It is hypothesized that omega nutrients are anti-inflammatory, which could account for their ability to prevent and treat arthritis and cancer. However, some studies have failed to find that omega supplements were beneficial in treating these conditions. There is also evidence that omega fatty acids can improve brain function, treat ADHD, strengthen the immune system, and treat psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, the science with regard to these omega fat benefits is undecided as some studies of omega supplements shown no benefits for these conditions. Some people also believe that omega fatty acid can treat autism, although there have been few studies that have tested this idea.
The best dietary sources for the ALA, EPA, and DHA forms of omega fats are oily cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines. Other sources of omega fats include olive oil, flaxseed, black raspberries, brown algae, krill oil, and Persian walnuts. Omega sources also now include foods fortified with omega fatty acids. Omega 6 is available from most meats, dairy products, and corn.
Balance of Omega Fatty Acids
Unfortunately, people who consume a Western diet get far too much omega 6. The ratio of omega
6 to omega 3 consumption should be no more than 5:1. However, many people eat a ratio up to 40:1. This excessive amount of omega 6 results in obesity, diabetes, vascular clotting, heart attacks, strokes, inflammation, allergies, cancer, and a suppressed immune system.
Risks of Supplementation
What is omega fats supplementation’s risks? There are several. First, extra amounts of even desirable omega fats can exacerbate some heart conditions. Second, there is fear among some health professionals that regular consumption of fish oils can increase the amount of mercury in the body. Most scientists consider these risks to be low, but anyone considering omega fatty acids supplementation should consult a physician.