Everything you need to know about omega-3s

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One of the great joys during the summer months is enjoying fresh seafood. But did you know that every time you slurp a fresh oyster you are adding valuable omega-3 fatty acids to your body?

While the name itself sounds like a compound that gives you super powers, omega-3s are simply a group of fatty acids that play a number of important roles in your body. Here is everything you need to know about them.

Why are omega-3 fatty acids so important in my diet?

Everything here revolves around heart health! Omega-3 fatty acids help your heart by lowering triglycerides, lowering blood pressure, reducing clotting, and reducing the risk of stroke. Unsaturated fats like omega-3s can reduce inflammation, which will help reduce damage to your blood vessels and prevent heart disease.

How do I get my daily omega-3 fatty acids?

If you like seafood, getting your omega-3s is easy and delicious. Oily fish – like salmon and tuna – and shellfish – like oysters, crabs, and clams – are full of omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re allergic to seafood or just not a fan, you can get omega-3s from plant sources like chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, Brussels sprouts, and flax seeds. Fish oil and other supplements can also help, but it is important to only take the recommended amount as some supplements can be harmful in high doses.

What are the benefits beyond heart health?

Research is ongoing into the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies conducted in a scientific review showed that omega-3 fatty acids can help relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. There is also ongoing research into how omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial in diseases of the brain and eye, but there is still no conclusive evidence for this.

Are omega-3 fatty acids enough for a healthy heart?

Omega-3s are great for your cardiovascular health, but a strong heart also requires a healthy eating pattern consisting of nutritious foods, regular exercise, and a tobacco-free lifestyle. Before you start taking omega-3 supplements, consult with your doctor and work together to create an overall plan for heart health.

Are there any concerns about omega-3 fatty acids?

In pregnant women, omega-3s can boost their baby’s brain development, but certain sources of omega-3 – such as shark, mackerel, and swordfish – should be avoided due to their high mercury content. Omega-3 fatty acids can also interact with drugs that affect blood clotting, so anyone taking any medication should speak to a doctor before taking any supplements.

Whether or not you want to include more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, a diet high in fresh seafood is good for your overall health. Studies generally show that those who eat seafood at least once a week are less likely to die from heart disease. So this summer give yourself the certainty that you will not only delight your palate … your heart will thank you too!

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