The human body uses omega-3 PUFAs in many ways. They are considered a ‘good’ unsaturated fat, while saturated fat is associated with increased levels of cholesterol that increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Once consumed, omega-3 PUFAs are further metabolized into compounds that are used at a cellular level, resulting in beneficial health effects including heart health.
Omega-3 PUFAs are also important for brain development and function. According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, research supports the beneficial impact of omega-3 PUFAs in cardiovascular disease, as well as heart function by ensuring a regular heart rate and coronary blood flow.
Omega-3 PUFAs have also been shown to decrease triglyceride levels and lower blood pressure slightly, reducing the risk of heart disease. Evidence to support beneficial effects of omega-3 PUFAs on other conditions, such as dementia and other neurological diseases, have been insufficient or inadequate.
The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) notes that the research findings are inconsistent as far recommending omega-3 PUFA supplements, but it is clear that including fish rich in omega-3s is beneficial as part of a heart-healthy diet.