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What are the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids?

Dr. Mike Dow, PsyD
Addiction Medicine Specialist

Omega-3 fatty acids are some of the most important nutrients you can give your brain; EPA and DHA do wonders for your mood and intelligence. Watch as psychotherapist Mike Dow, PsyD, describes the different types and benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.

Dr. Ozgen Dogan
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Omega-3 has anti-inflammatory effects that keep our blood vessels healthy. It increases nitric oxide, an excellent chemical that makes our vessels bigger so more blood can be sent to our heart. It prevents arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, and it is an anticoagulant that can prevent blockages in the blood vessels that can lead to heart attack or stroke.

Samantha Heller, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Apart from helping to prevent cardiovascular disease and helping ease depression, omega-3s have the following benefits:

  • Evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids reduce tender joint pain for people suffering with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Omega-3 fats act as systemic anti-inflammatories.
  • A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids might help treat people with lung diseases such as asthma and emphysema.
  • Plant sources of omega-3s, such as walnuts and flaxseeds, help keep bones strong and healthy.
Get Smart: Samantha Heller's Nutrition Prescription for Boosting Brain Power and Optimizing Total Body Health

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Get Smart: Samantha Heller's Nutrition Prescription for Boosting Brain Power and Optimizing Total Body Health

A healthy body makes for a healthy brain, and this fun, creative guide is designed to help readers have both—they can be smarter, stronger, happier, and more energetic by changing a few dietary...

Omega-3 fatty acids are naturally occurring fats that our bodies need but cannot produce on their own. These fatty acids have been shown to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. They may also protect against irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels.

Some sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • walnuts
  • canola oil
  • soybean oil
  • wild salmon, lake trout, herring and albacore tuna
Ximena Jimenez
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Omega-3s are a healthy type of fat that have plenty of health benefits including lowering heart disease by decreasing triglyceride levels. Omega-3 fatty acids seem to lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. There is some evidence that it can alleviate some of the symptoms in patients with psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Food sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, flaxseed, canola oil, and walnuts.

Research suggests that omega-3s may help thin blood and prevent blood platelets from clotting and sticking to artery walls. In turn, this may help lower the risk for blocked blood vessels and heart attacks.

Dr. William B. Salt, MD
Gastroenterologist

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce the risk and symptoms of a variety of disorders. Omega-3 fatty acids can lower triglyceride levels. If your triglycerides are elevated, there is increasing scientific evidence that fish oil and statin drugs are synergistic in their effects on lowering them. Omega-3 fatty acids increase HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), help minimize inflammation and blood clotting, and keep blood vessels healthy. They help keep the heart beating at a steady rate, and they greatly reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death. They may reduce the risk of getting cancer of the prostate or breast. They may reduce depression. When given to pregnant and nursing mothers, they may increase a baby’s IQ, given their impact on brain development.

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Janis Jibrin, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Omega-3 fatty acids offer a host of health benefits, including reducing inflammation, which, in turn, helps prevent and may even treat diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease. They have been linked with prevention of type 2 diabetes. These fats also help prevent blood clots and lower blood pressure, can improve mood, and may increase IQ in children. The health effects are so great that there's a case to be made for taking omega-3 supplements in addition to what you get from your diet.

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In the past, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil (eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA), were used primarily for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) because RA involves significant inflammation and these fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects. However, we now know that other types of chronic pain also have inflammation, so EPA may help to reduce this. Also, there are findings that omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil may alleviate depression.

Diet for a Pain-Free Life: A Revolutionary Plan to Lose Weight, Stop Pain, Sleep Better and Feel Great in 21 Days, ADA...sound nutritional advice...do-able, delicious..a godsend to pain sufferers.

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Diet for a Pain-Free Life: A Revolutionary Plan to Lose Weight, Stop Pain, Sleep Better and Feel Great in 21 Days, ADA...sound nutritional advice...do-able, delicious..a godsend to pain sufferers.

Do you wake up each morning aching with joint or muscle pain? Have you been trying to lose stubborn belly fat for years? Do you wish you could be active without pain medications? Look no further: Diet for a Pain-Free Life is the simple-to-follow, doctor-designed solution to improve your health. Leading rheumatologist, Dr. Harris McIlwain shares his revolutionary prescriptions in this first proven lifestyle plan that will help you drop pounds and decrease pain at the same time. Losing just 10 pounds can reduce chronic pain by as much as 90 percent. Learn the secrets of how to: Eat Well and Lose Weight with the Pain-Free Diet—even if you've never been able to succeed on a diet before Exercise Your Pain Away—even if you dislike traditional exercise, or if your pain makes movement difficult Stop the Stress-Pain Connection—even if you're overworked and easily stressed Improve the Quality of Your Sleep—even if you suffer from insomnia or other sleep conditions Those who have followed Dr. McIlwain's program have been able to resume the activities they love and transform their lives in as few as 21 days—now you can too.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Omega-3 fatty acids are the brain-boosting, cholesterol-clearing good fats (monounsaturated). I list them as 1 of the 5 critical vitamins every woman should take, 1 of 5 daily nutrition needs and as one of the most important steps expecting mother's can take to promote their baby's healthy development. There are 3 basic forms of omega-3:

  • Alpha-linelenic acid (ALA) found in English walnuts and vegetable oils like flaxseed, soybean, and olive, which the body eventually, but in small quantities, converts to DHA.
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found primarily in fish oil, this is the ultimate form of fatty acid in humans. Most people get far too little of this all-important fatty acid, especially since the conversion of ALA to DHA is slow and yields little. Getting a daily dose of DHA (600 to 1,000 milligrams) from supplements is preferable to reap the health benefits. You have a choice of taking a fish oil supplement or one derived from algae or krill, a shrimp-like crustacean.
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is also found in fish oil, so it's absorbed if you're taking a daily dose of DHA omega-3.

This content originally appeared on doctoroz.com.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.