Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to many health benefits. In particular, they may help promote brain and heart health, reduce inflammation, and protect against several chronic conditions.
Health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids
1. May benefit depression and anxiety
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the world.
Symptoms often include sadness, lethargy, and a general loss of interest in life.
Anxiety, another common disorder, is characterized by feelings of fear, panic, and restlessness.
Interestingly, studies indicate that people who consume omega-3s regularly are less likely to have depression.
What’s more, studies in people with depression and anxiety suggest that omega-3 supplements may improve symptoms.
There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Of the three, EPA appears to be the most beneficial for depression.
2. May improve eye health
DHA, a type of omega-3, is a major structural component of the retina of your eye.
When you don’t get enough DHA, vision problems may arise.
Interestingly, getting enough omega-3 is also linked to a reduced risk of macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of permanent eye damage and blindness around the world.
3. Could promote brain health during pregnancy and early life
Omega-3s are crucial for brain growth and development in infants.
Getting enough omega-3s during pregnancy is associated with numerous benefits for your child, including:
- improved cognitive development
- better communication and social skills
- fewer behavioral problems
- decreased risk of developmental delay
4. May improve risk factors for heart disease
Heart attacks and strokes are the world’s leading causes of death.
Decades ago, researchers observed that fish-eating communities had very low rates of these diseases. This was later linked to omega-3 consumption.
Since then, omega-3 fatty acids have been tied to numerous benefits for heart health.
These benefits include:
- Triglycerides: Omega-3s can significantly reduce levels of triglycerides.
- HDL cholesterol: Some older studies suggest that omega-3s could raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
- Blood clots: Omega-3s can keep blood platelets from clumping together. This helps prevent the formation of harmful blood clots, according to some older research .
- Inflammation: Omega-3s reduce the production of some substances released during your body’s inflammatory response.