Improve your mood, cut your risk of heart disease, boost your brain health, and enjoy a generally healthier life by eating more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are found mostly in seafood.
That’s the advice of researchers who found in a new study that two-thirds of the American population generally and a surprising 95 percent of young children do not consume enough omega-3 fatty acids to meet their nutritional needs.Read More »
The study reveals that the public needs to be better educated about the significant role that omega-3 fatty acids play in human health, says Dr. Susan Mitmesser, Vice President of science and technology at Pharmavite, makers of Nature Made vitamins and supplements, which undertook the analysis on the data.
Healthy eating practices that are established at early stages of human development pave the way to a healthy regimen later in life, she adds. For this reason children should receive food that is rich in nutrients in addition to physical activity and sound sleep from an early age.
The study found:
• Low concentrations of all omega-3 fatty acids were found across all stages of life.
• The sectors of the population that had the lowest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids were among children aged two to five, adult men, and Mexican American/Hispanic and non-Hispanic black people.
• Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids was greatest among seniors. Studies show that older adults need more omega-3 fatty acids in their diet as a result of the aging process.
Recent research indicates that eating omega-3 fatty acids provides a wide range of health benefits.
Among them is reduction in the risk of heart disease by cutting stress on the cardiovascular system. Some studies have found that eating omega-3 fatty acids regularly can cut blood pressure and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. It also can lower the overall risk of early cardiovascular death.
A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids is also said to cut the risk of type 2 diabetes.
DHA, the leading substance found in omega-3 fatty acids, has been linked to lower levels of inflammation in the body, to reducing rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, and to general eye health.
Increasing research studies also are finding that omega-3 fatty acids might play a more important role than had been realized up to now in other areas of wellbeing and health. Particularly important in this regard is that the acids provide support for a healthy mood. They achieve this effect, research has shown, by combating depressive disorder. For example, a recent study by Pharmavite that was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders Reports found for the first time that adults who have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their systems also have a lower risk of suffering from depression and that there was a lower risk that depression would affect their daily lives.
Studies also point to the fatty acids helping those with ADHD to focus more clearly on tasks and to be less easily distracted.
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential for development and proper functioning of the brain through all life stages from formation of the brain in a baby to reducing brain aging later in life.
The main source of omega-3 fatty acids is fish, including tuna, salmon, herring, cod, catfish and sardines. Shrimp and clams also contain omega-3 fatty acids, but in smaller amounts.
Omega-3 fatty acids also can be found in fish oil, in spinach, in seeds, such as flaxseed, and in nuts, such as walnuts. Another source is oils including canola oil or flaxseed oil.
How much you should eat
Here are guidelines on how much seafood a person should eat to obtain the ideal amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
• Recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends those two years and older should eat 8 ounces a week of a variety of seafoods. That amount will provide about 250 mg of omega-3 fatty acids a day, the guidelines suggest.
• The American Heart Association recommends eating one to two seafood meals a week to cut the risk of congestive heart failure, ischemic stroke, heart disease and sudden cardiac death.
• Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should eat up to 12 ounces of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet to support the health of the infant, the survey recommends. Doing so will ensure they eat at least 300 mg a day.
The body’s need for omega-3 fatty acids is greater during pregnancy because of the needs of the fetus, the study says. This is particularly true in the last trimester as the nervous system is developing rapidly and the nutrients are also needed for the general demands of the placenta.