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The Omegas

In the past few years, scientific research has been drawn to the importance of some types of fatty acids chains that showed significant benefits to the human body. These fatty acid chains were named the “omegas” and were classified into 3 types: Omega-3 fatty acids: the main source of omega-3 is found in fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, and mackerel in the form of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). However, it is also present in plant foods such as walnuts, flaxseeds, and some plant oils in the form of alpha-linolenic acid ALA. Out of all the omegas, omega-3 was found to have the most beneficial effects in preventing many health risks due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. When taken in adequate amounts either from the diet or from supplementation, omega-3 was shown to decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, improve cognitive function (especially memory) and help in body fat mass reduction. Omega-6 fatty acids: they are more commonly found in the diet especially in seeds and most plant oils (e.g. sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, etc..). Their benefits are less highlighted than that of the omega-3 and include providing energy for the body and decreasing some inflammation symptoms. Omega-9 fatty acids: considered as the least popular in the omega family, omega-9 is the most common unsaturated fatty acid in the diet (found in almost all plant oils). Consuming this type of fatty acids was shown to decrease inflammation and improve insulin resistance. When talking about fatty acids supplementation, omega-3 is usually the most common fatty acid to be supplemented since it is the least found in the diet and has the most benefits. It is usually available in the form of fish oils (either liquid or capsules) or plant oils (flaxseed or algae oils). Finally, when searching for an omega-3 supplement, many factors should be taken into consideration such as: - Type of omega-3: it is preferable that the supplement contains EPA and DHA. - Amount of omega-3 present: compare the label to the actual content of EPA and DHA. - Form of omega-3: look for omega-3 in the form of free fatty acids, triglycerides, and phospholipids for optimal absorption. - Purity: go for products with GOED standards for purity and from well-known manufacturers to make sure that the product is being also purified from mercury.