Saturday, October 15, 2011

Nutrient Fact: Omega 3

Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid found in egg yolk and cold water fish, including tuna, salmon, mackerel, and cold, as well as in crabs, shrimp, and oysters. These fatty acids promote healthy immune system and help protect against heart disease and other diseases. Americans tend to not get enough omega 3 fatty acids. On the other hand, omega 6 fatty acids, which are found in flax seed, canola, and soybean oils and green leaves, most of the time are consumed in abundance.

Both types of essential fatty acids are used to make eicosanoids, which are oxygenated fatty acids that the body uses to signal cellular responses. Eicosanoids made from omega 6 fatty acids tend to cause inflammation and increase blood pressure and blood clotting. Eicosanoids made from omega 3 fatty acids have the opposite effect: they reduce blood clotting, dilate blood vessels, and reduce inflammation. This balancing act between omega 6 and omega 3 is essential for maintaining normal circulation and other important processes.  Reducing consumption of omega 6 fatty acids and increasing consumption of omega 3 fatty acids may lower chronic disease risk, though research remains inclusive.

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