Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) have been proven in clinical studies to decrease the risk of repeat episodes of coronary heart disease and to reduce the chance of dying from coronary heart disease. They also decrease a component of cholesterol known as triglycerides.
Omega-3 from fish can lower the amount of fats in our blood stream, but the ALA form of omega-3 does not. Partially defatted flaxseed (an ALA form of omega-3) can increase the fats in our blood by 10%, which can lead to hardening of blood vessels.
Omega-3 fatty acids -fats commonly found in fish oil – were shown several years ago to prevent retinopathy, a major form of blindness, in a mouse model of the disease. A follow-up study now reveals exactly how omega-3’s provide protection, and provides reassurance that widely used COX-inhibiting drugs like aspirin and NSAIDs don’t negate their benefit. The findings also suggest that omega-3’s may be beneficial in diabetes.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are the product of the breakdown of dietary fat. The cells use them for energetic and metabolic processes. Because your body does not synthesize its own omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids, they are considered “essential fatty acids (EFAs.)” That is, you must get these fatty acids from the foods you eat in order to sustain good health.
Omega-3 fatty acid (Alpha-linolenic acid) is an essential fatty acid that plays an important role in brain function and may aid in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Omega-3 fatty acids also may help treat dry eyes. In a recent study of dry eyes induced in mice, topical application of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA led to a significant decrease in dry eye signs and inflammation associated with dry eye.
Omega-3 fatty acids also have been found to reduce the risk of dry eyes. In a study of more than 32,000 women between the ages of 45 and 84, those with the highest ratio of (potentially harmful) omega-6 fatty acids to beneficial omega-3 fatty acids in their diet (15-to-1) had a significantly greater risk of dry eye syndrome, compared with the women with the lowest ratio (less than 4-to-1). The study also found that the women who ate at least two servings of tuna per week had significantly less risk of dry eye than women who ate one or fewer servings per week.
The biggest benefits from including omega-3 fatty acids in your diet relate to heart disease. Omega-3s protect the heart by decreasing arrhythmias, blood clot formation, blood triglycerides, growth rate of atherosclerotic build-up, blood pressure and inflammation, not to mention they may improve the function of artery cells.
Out of the all the benefits Omega-3 provides, the evidence is strongest for heart disease. One of the best ways to help, not only treat, but prevent heart disease is a low-fat diet with polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 fatty acids). EPA and DHA found in fish oil help reduce the risk of heart disease, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It also helps inhibit the development of plaque and blood clots.