Omega-3 fatty acids are very important fats that we must get from the diet.
However, most people don’t really know what they are.
This article explains what omega-3 fatty acids are, how they work and why you should care.
What is Omega-3?
Omega-3 is short for omega-3 fatty acid.
We can not produce them on our own, so we must get them from the diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated, meaning that they have several double bonds in the chemical structure.
The three most important types are ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).
ALA is mainly found in plants, while DHA and EPA are mainly found in animal foods and algae.
Omega-3 fatty acids are needed for optimal function of the human body, and they may also provide numerous powerful health benefits (2).
For people who do not eat much of these foods, an omega-3 supplement (like fish oil) is often recommended.
Bottom Line: Omega-3 fatty acids are a family of important fats that we must get from the diet. The three main types are ALA, EPA and DHA.
What Does “Omega-3” Mean?
The “omega” naming convention has to do with the placement of the double bonds on the fatty acid chain.
Each fatty acid has a long chain of carbon atoms, with one carboxylic acid end (called alpha) and one methyl end (called omega).
Here is a photo with two fatty acids. The alpha end is on the left and the omega end on the right. The double lines shows the placement of the double bonds.
Photo Source: GB HealthWatch.
The omega-3 fat ALA is on the top and the omega-6 fat LA on the bottom.
The number 3 means that the first double bond of the fatty acid molecule is located 3 carbon atoms away from the “omega” end.
Conversely, the double bond in omega-6 fatty acids is located 6 carbon atoms away from the omega end.
Bottom Line: The “omega” naming convention has to do with the placement of the double bond in the fatty acid molecule. Omega-3 fatty acids have the first double bond placed 3 carbon atoms away from the omega end.
The Three Types: ALA, EPA and DHA
There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, DHA and EPA.
ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
It is not active in the human body, and needs to be converted into the active forms, EPA and DHA.
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
Eicosapentaenoic acid is an omega-3 fatty acid that is 20 carbons long.
It is mostly found in animal products, such as fatty fish and fish oil. However, some microalgae also contain EPA.
It has several functions in the human body. Part of it can be converted into DHA.
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the most important omega-3 fatty acid in the human body. It is 22 carbons long.
It is a key structural component of the brain, the retina of the eyes and numerous important parts of the body (7).
Bottom Line: There are three main omega-3 fatty acids in the diet: ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
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Have you heard of a “red” smoothie? If not, check out this true story…
The Omega-6:Omega-3 Ratio
Omega-6 fatty acids also have important roles in the human body.
Their function is often similar to the function of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, but eating too much omega-6 counteracts these beneficial effects.
For this reason, we need to consume these fatty acids in a certain balance for optimal health. This balance between omega-6 and omega-3 is often termed the omega-6:omega-3 ratio.
These days, most people are eating way too many omega-6 fats, and way too few omega-3s, so the ratio is currently skewed far towards the omega-6 side (11).
Bottom Line: Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are used to produce important signalling molecules called eicosanoids. Getting both types of fatty acids in a certain balance is considered important for optimal health.
What Omega-3 Fatty Acids Do
Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, play structural roles in the brain and retina of the eyes (7).
It is particularly important for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers to get enough DHA.
It can affect the future health and intelligence of the baby (12).
Additionally, getting enough omega-3 fatty acids can have powerful health benefits for adults as well. This is especially true of the longer-chain forms, EPA and DHA.
Although evidence is mixed, studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can have protective effects against all sorts of diseases.
At the end of the day, omega-3 fatty acids are important, and the modern diet is severely lacking in them.
If you don’t like fish, then consider taking a supplement. It is both cheap and effective.
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Do You Know Your Body’s Most Important Weight Loss Secret?
By J. Davis III
Tags: HEALING | HEALTHY FATS | REMEDIES
Recently, Doctor of Naturopathy, weight-loss expert and best-selling Amazon author Liz Swann Miller, creator of the Red Smoothie Detox Factor, revealed 2 of the secrets to easy, steady weight loss. Secrets the big food corporations do their best to hide from us.
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You probably know most of us eat too much processed food. What you may not know is that it’s full of toxic chemicals and substandard, dirt-cheap ingredients designed to make you eat more…and force you to gain weight.
Here’s how it works...
“That stuff is just a lot of calories your body can’t use,” Liz told me, “Some are poison. And all these foods are stripped of the anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories that help your body detox. The result? Your body expends huge amounts of calories to eliminate some toxins—the rest, it stores in your fat to protect you. This is why most people are hungry all the time. They’re not getting energy they need.”
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Your body is designed to burn fat. You just have to let it.
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What good is a fat reserve if you can’t burn it?
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Natural Diabetes Treatment Works Better Than Prescription Drugs *PROOF*
By Richard Neal
Tags: HEALING | REMEDIES | PREVENTION
According the latest statistics, diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes in the United States is reaching epidemic levels:
Total: 29.1 million people or 9.3% of the population have diabetes.
Diagnosed: 21.0 million people.
Undiagnosed: 8.1 million people (27.8% of people with diabetes are undiagnosed).
Source: CDC Website
Drugs Treat Symptoms, Not Disease
Pharmaceutical companies have been trying to shut these doctors down simply for revealing the truth about diabetes.
Scientific studies have proven that type 2 diabetes can be reversed naturally - but this information has been hidden and suppressed for decades.
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In 3 Weeks, 71% Type 2 Diabetics Were Taken off ALL Medication
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#1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat
By J. Davis III
Tags: HEALING | PREVENTION
I bet you can’t guess which muscle in your body is the #1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat.
This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
If this “hidden” most powerful primal muscle is healthy, we are healthy.
d) Hip Flexors
Take the quiz above and see if you got the correct answer!
P.S. Make sure you check out the next page to get to know the 10 simple moves that will bring vitality back into your life!
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