5 health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids - Women's Health and Fitness magazine

Recent studies show that these fatty acids could reverse the ageing process. We do the math.

 

Omega-3s are unequivocally lauded as one of nutrition's noblest players. According to accredited practising dietitian and author of The Total Life Diet Shamala Ratnesar, omega-3s reside within the membrane of every cell, where they influence the way molecules, enzymes and hormones interact and pass in and out of cells. Skin, hair and nails are all affected by how much – or little – you’re getting. To obtain the commonly praised EPA and DHA, you need to consume foods containing precursor ALA, from which the body manufactures EPA and DHA. ALA is essential, meaning the body can’t make it from scratch. Seafood and omega-3-enriched foods such as omega-3 eggs are good sources. The other consideration is that even if you are consuming ALA, only around five per cent of will be converted to EPA and DHA. We need to maintain both. 

1. Memory and intellect

When you consider that your brain is about 60 per cent fat, and that the main fatty acid in your grey matter is marine omega-3 DHA, the link between omega-3s and keeping your brain nimble is a no-brainer. "Omega-3 fatty acids can improve intellect, memory and mental alertness at all ages," writes Ratnesar. Research implicates omega-3s in prevention of dementia and mental decline, and indemnity against Alzheimer's. One study found that eating fish three times a week diminished dementia risk by 50 per cent. In follow-up nine years after initial assessment, study subjects with the highest DHA levels had the lowest risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

2. Brain health

Omega-3s are central to regulating neurotransmitters that inform mood and mental state. Because nerve cells, which send electrical impulses and neurotransmitters (think serotonin and dopamine), are rich in DHA, omega-3s protect nerve cells from damage and indemnify normal, healthy communication between brain cells and the body's nerves, which can impact mood and ha been linked to depression severity. Omega-3s can also strengthen the myelin sheaths surrounding the brain's nerve cells, which Ratnesar says can help to prevent and manage conditions involving the central nervous system. 

3. Eye health

Because the retina is a hotbed of DHA, consuming adequate omega-3s can keep your peepers in prime condition. Even once optical wear and tear has started to show, omega-3s can help to slow the rate of vision decline, Ratnesar says. They may also protect against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

4. Weight loss

The term 'fatty acids' is misleading. Omega-3s may actually help with body fat loss according to Ratnesar. They’re thought to reduce insulin resistance and help to normalise levels of insulin – the notorious 'fat storage hormone' – in turn effectively blocking fat storage. They also may promote fat oxidation. Most sources of omega-3s are low in dietary fat and kilojoules and high in satiating protein, making them excellent weight loss fare. 

5. Skin health

With inflammation among the leading culprits in wrinkled skin, omega-3s proven anti-inflammatory impact makes them potent weapons against the appearance of

ageing.

NEXT: Uncover the importance of micronutrients.