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By Karen Appold
Your body needs omega-3 fatty acids in order to properly function. It doesn’t produce them, however, you need to eat foods that contain them.
Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids can help a host of health conditions. Here’s a sampling of the benefits that you might realize if you eat a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids. In some instances, more studies need to be done to confirm results.
- It may increase your HDL or good cholesterol levels and decrease triglycerides (fats in blood).
- It may lower high blood pressure.
- It may prevent heart disease and stroke.
- It may help people with diabetes, because it can help to lower triglycerides and apoproteins (markers of diabetes).
- It may help to reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, such as joint pain and morning stiffness. It might also increase the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.
- It may lower inflammation associated with asthma.
- It may prevent symptoms of systemic lupus, such as fatigue and joint pain.
- It may increase calcium levels, improve bone strength, and decrease bone loss associated with osteoporosis.
- It may reduce your chances of getting macular degeneration.
- It may lower your risk for colon cancer, or slow the progression of it in the early stages.
- It may prevent men from getting prostate cancer.
- It may lower your level of depression while boosting the effect of anti-depressants. It may also lower depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder.
- It may decrease your risk for cognitive decline or dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and slow its progression. Some researchers believe omega-3s protect against these conditions.
If a pregnant woman doesn’t consume enough omega-3 fatty acids, her unborn baby is at greater risk for having nerve and vision problems.
If you do not eat enough omega-3s, you may experience fatigue, memory problems, heart issues, poor circulation, dry skin, mood swings, or depression.
Omega-3 fatty acids are high in coldwater fish, including tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, cod, herring and halibut, as well as other foods such as flaxseed, canola oil, walnuts, soybeans, and pumpkin seeds. Sea life, such as krill and algae, also contain high amounts of omega-3s. You may want consider nutritional supplements if you’re not getting enough omega-3s in your diet.
Karen Appold is a medical writer in Lehigh Valley, PA.