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How Omega-3 Fatty Acids Help Us

By Elaine Moore on 10/14/2011

October 14, 2011

With the advent of processed foods and a reliance on saturated fats and trans fats, the natural balance of essential omega oils (fatty acids) has shifted. Most people in industrialized countries today have insufficient levels of omega-3 fatty acids along with high levels of omega-6 oils. This imbalance has been found to contribute to a number of inflammatory disorders. Adding fish, nuts and other foods high in omega-3 oils or following a strict Mediterranean type diet can help restore the body's normal balance, and so can taking omega-3 supplements. 

Omega-3 oils are found in flaxseed (linseed) oil, hemp oil, and oily fish (salmon, tuna, herring and cod) as well as the Japanese food okiami and krill oil. Researchers have long found that a deficiency of omega-3 oils contributes to the development of inflammatory disorders. Eskimos are thought to have the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease because of their particular diet, which contains high amount of omega-3 oils.

Besides omega-3 and omega-6 oils, we also have omega-9 oils but they're not considered essential because the body can make this particular type of fatty acids. However, because omega-9 oils can lower cholesterol levels, offer protection against cancer, enhance immune function, and reduce cardiovascular disease risk, it's important to add them to the diet as well. Good sources of omega-9 oils include olives, olive oil, almonds and most nuts, and sesame seeds.

For this reason, some supplements are available that contain an optimal balance of omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 oils. For people with autoimmune disorders, the addition of omega-3 oils, especially oils rich in DHA and EPA, are used to help the immune system heal, reduce inflammation, help mood, and enhance the healing process.



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