Head & Heart: The Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Denis1

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Sep 12, 2012
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Omega-3 fatty acids are comprised primarily of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), each playing a significant role in supporting your body’s two most important organs: your brain and your heart. In this article, we will cover the benefits of EPA on your heart and DHA’s impact on your brain. A Healthy Heart As obesity rates continue to rise, so too will the rates of heart disease. A key problem is that we are ingesting too much fat. Well, let me correct that. We are ingesting too much of the wrong fat and not enough of the right fat. When we have an imbalance of the fat we ingest our hearts are more at risk. Bad fats thicken blood and harden arteries. Good fats, on the other hand, have been shown to help support healthy heart function. Omega-3 Omega-3 essential fatty acids comprise a good portion of these good fats. High quantities of omega-3 can be found in cold-water fish such as salmon and sardines, and it is also available as a supplement in fish oil. A key component of omega-3 is EPA. When EPA enters the body it helps to support healthy heart function. One of its major benefits is that it helps to actually reduce the viscosity of blood, improving its flow through the circulatory system. The structure of red blood cells plays a major role in how easily blood flows throughout the circulatory system. Anything from diet pollutants can have a negative impact on blood health, but an increased intake of EPA helps to fortify red blood cell membranes, resulting in lower blood viscosity (systolic) and blood stickiness (diastolic). This Is Your Brain Your brain is the thought center of your body. As you age, however, its ability to learn and retain information decreases for a number of reasons. Brain cells get worn down over time due to oxidized stress. Oxidized stress is caused by exposure to free radicals that are brought into the body through pollution and certain things that we eat. DHA actually helps to counteract the negative effects that are caused by oxidized stress. DHA makes up 97% of the essential omega-3 fatty acids in the brain. Its purpose is to provide fluidity in the brain and assist with neurotransmission. During the aging process, however, the brain essentially uses up DHA and it is necessary to replenish these reserves. Because our bodies don’t actually produce DHA, it is necessary to consume this essential fatty acid either in the foods we eat or in supplemental form. This Is Your Brain on DHA By increasing your intake of DHA you take steps to support your brain function and mental capacities. It is very important that you replenish the DHA that is lost naturally through the aging process. When your diet includes enough DHA, your brain is able to retain its necessary fatty composition in order to keep firing on all cylinders. In addition, DHA is also a key component of the eye’s retina. Similar to the brain, the eye requires DHA to improve fluidity and to aid in the transmission of light. DHA deficiency is related to both structural and functional eye issues, but by increasing supply of DHA you can help support the eye’s overall health and functionality. Any Questions? The good news is that you can now take steps to ensure your diet has the proper amount of EPA and DHA to support lasting heart and brain function. Unless you eat a lot of fish, DHA is most commonly available in the form of fish oil supplements. If you take fish oil capsules, you’ll want to make sure they’re enteric coated so that they dissolve in the large intestine rather than in the stomach, the latter of which can cause indigestion and bloating. Unfortunately, enteric-coated fish oil capsules tend to be large and hard to swallow, especially for those recovering from cervical spine surgery and other procedures affecting the throat and stomach. The good news: there are new liquid fish oil supplement options that are naturally sweetened with such flavors as key lime, lemon meringue and orange—all of which are surprisingly delicious and devoid of any fishy taste. As you can see the benefits of omega-3 fish oil with EPA and DHA are clear for body and mind—there’s nothing fishy about it. Resources:
Dr. Chad Prusmack, MD is the author of this article on omega-3. Find more information, about fish oil supplement here
 
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