What Are Omega-3s and How Many of Them Do You Need? - Dish on Fish
#Seafood123/ Heart-Health/ Nutrition

What Are Omega-3s and How Many of Them Do You Need?

If you’ve been following along on the blog, you know we like to remind our readers that seafood is an excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. But you might ask, what does that mean for my health? If you’re wondering how these fatty acids play into a healthy diet, then this blog post is for you.

What are omega-3s, and where do I find them?

Omega-3s are essential fatty acids. Because our bodies cannot make omega-3s, it is essential that we get these healthy fatty acids from our food. Seafood is the premier dietary source of omega-3s, particularly DHA and EPA. Most seafood contains omega-3s, although the levels vary depending on the species. Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, anchovies, lake trout, tuna, herring and mackerel tend to provide the highest amounts of omega-3s.

How much do I need in my diet?

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans eat a variety of seafood at least 2-3 times each week to meet omega-3 and other nutrient needs. According to USDA, most (80-90%) of Americans don’t meet seafood recommendations, which means most of us need to at least double the amount of seafood we eat each week.

What are the health benefits of omega-3s?

There are so many reasons why we need to eat more seafood throughout our entire lives. Here are just a few of the health benefits of omega-3s from seafood.

  • Brain and eye development in babies: About half of our brains and eyes are comprised of the omega-3 DHA. Since our bodies do not make omega-3s, it is critical that pregnant women, breastfeeding moms and young children get DHA in their diet for optimal brain and eye development
  • Heart health: Omega-3s benefit the heart in a variety of ways. They can help lower your blood pressure and triglyceride levels, leading to a reduced risk of heart disease.
  • Reduction of chronic inflammation: Omega-3s also help reduce chronic inflammation, which can lessen the risk of heart disease and chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
  • Adult brain health: Omega-3s are important for the brain before birth and throughout the rest of your lifespan. In fact, omega-3s may help increase gray matter in the brain as we age, which is important for processing information, memories and emotions. Plus, researchers continue to look at the positive impact omega-3s may have in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, as well as ADHD.
  • Mood boost: The omega-3 fatty acid EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) may be helpful in preventing depression and boosting mood. Omega-3s have also been shown to reduce the likelihood of depression, particularly postpartum depression in new moms.
  • Eye health: Omega-3s may help reduce the risk of developing visual problems (such as macular degeneration) as we age.
  • Skin care: EPA may help promote the skin’s oil production, as well as skin hydration.

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