Omega 3 Health Benefits - Exposing Myths Vs. Facts

omega 3 fish oil

Omega 3 essential fatty acids are an important nutrient with numerous benefits. It is important to have it on your plate daily, especially because the human body is incapable of producing omega 3 on its own. Therefore, make sure you increase your omega 3 intake or incorporate a dietary supplement in your daily routine.

Consuming omega 3 has many health benefits: from improved heart and brain health to healthy aging and stronger immunity. It can significantly improve your overall health and quality of life. But even with all the research and studies, a lot of myths surround the use of omega 3 fatty acids.

The EFAs (essential fatty acids) play a vital role in the normal functioning of endocrine system, immune system, heart, and blood vessels. However, it can be hard to navigate all the information coming forth. Read on to learn some facts and myths surrounding the use of omega 3 essential fatty acids.

Omega 3 Facts

For decades, omega 3 EFAs have been a major research topic. Over the course of this period, researchers have been able to find many amazing benefits of this nutrient. Here are some perks of consuming adequate amounts of omega 3 fatty acids – backed by science.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Improve Health Risk Factors

According to various observations and studies in the past, fish-eating communities show a much lower rate of strokes and heart rate than the rest of the world.

Some research conducted later in time reveals that this low rate of these conditions is linked with high consumption of omega 3 fatty acids. Tied with numerous benefits to heart health, these fatty acids address the following:

  • Reduce triglycerides in the body and bring them within the range of 15 to 30 percent
  • Reduce blood pressure levels and improve endothelium function of the heart
  • Cause an increase in HDL cholesterol levels
  • Prevent unnecessary and harmful blood clotting by keeping blood platelets from clumping together
  • Prevent plaque build-up in the arteries by keeping them smooth
  • Prevent inflammation by reducing the production of substances during the body’s inflammatory response

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Fight Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety are the most common psychological disorders all across the globe. Depressed people experience symptoms like feelings of constant sadness and lethargy. They also tend to lose interest in life and, in extreme cases, may experience suicidal thoughts. On the other hand, symptoms of anxiety include nervousness, stress, and worry.

Interestingly, quite many studies reveal that depression is less likely to affect people who regularly consume omega 3. In fact, people suffering from depression and anxiety tend to experience a reduction in symptoms once they take omega 3 supplements.

Not only is omega 3 fatty acids and seafood associated with fewer occurrences of depression, but it is possible to protect people between ages 15 and 25. Omega 3 fatty acids come in 3 types: ALA, EPA, and DHA. However, a review study of 2019 indicates that EPA fights depression the best, with DHA having the littlest effects.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Promote Brain Health During Pregnancy and Early Life

Omega 3 fatty acids are an essential nutrient that helps in brain development and growth among infants. In fact, DHA makes up around 40 percent of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in the brain. On the other hand, it also makes for around 60% part of the retina of your eye.

This makes it important for infants to consume omega 3 fatty essential fatty acids. In fact, infants fed a DHA-fortified milk formula experience better eyesight and vision. On the other hand, infants fed regular formula experience sight issues much earlier in life.

Not only this, but most doctors also recommend pregnant women to consume fatty fish and omega 3 supplements for better brain development of the fetus. Women who do so during their pregnancy have children with higher intelligence and fewer risks of behavioral issues, ADHD, cerebral palsy, and autism. Children also show better communication skills as they grow older.

Omega 3 Myths

Although omega 3 can improve heart and brain health and development, there are numerous rumors surrounding the health benefits of this compound. Here are some myths we would like to bust:

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Prevent Cancer

According to some reports, omega 3 improved complications and risk factors among cancer patients. While the results seem promising initially, there is no real evidence to support this finding. In fact, no research suggests the use of omega 3 for the prevention of cancer development. So while you may want to believe the myth, it is still not backed by science.

Not to mention, a meta-analysis for over a million people with high intakes of omega 3 showed no reduction in the risk of lung cancer. Rather, the risk seemed to increase in some cases. This means that lack of omega 3 and excessive intake are both equally harmful.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids are only found in Fish Oil

A lot of people believe that fatty fish is the only source of omega 3 essential fatty acids. However, the three main kinds of fatty acids can very well be found in different foods.

  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): ALA omega 3s are commonly found in plants as well as animal fats. This can be used by the body for storage and energy. You can find ALA omega 3 fats in walnuts, kale, spinach, chia seeds, hemp, and soybeans.
  • Eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic (DHA): EPAs and DHAs are crucial for brain and eye health. But, they also significantly help with conditions like inflammation, etc. Shrimps, salmon, herring, etc. are rich in EPA and DHA omega 3s. But, you can also acquire them from meats, eggs, and dairy.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Reduce Risk of Death

Since omega 3 EFAs can reduce health risks such as stroke and heart attack, a lot of people believe that consuming omega 3 can help them prevent death. There is no way that omega 3 can prevent such adverse outcomes of heart-related diseases. While it can definitely reduce your risk of heart disease, it is hard to avoid sudden cardiac death and more.

It is important to understand that adequate amounts of omega 3 in the body help lower the risk by addressing issues like cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. But the essential fatty acids do not prevent sudden deaths caused by strokes or heart arrests.

Key Takeaways

Many myths surround the regular consumption of omega 3 fatty acids. While some believe it is only possible to get omega 3s from fish, others think that the EFAs can prevent cancer or death. However, none of it is true. Rather, omega 3 fats improve health risk factors and support brain health.


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