Omega-3 fatty acids • Effect, food & nutritional supplements

Omega-3 fatty acids have great benefits for the heart, brain, and blood vessels. As a vegan alternative to fish, algae oil is also a good source of omega-3. Read here how high the daily requirement is and what effect omega-3 has.

It is well known that fatty sea fish like salmon and herring contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. But now that fish is becoming increasingly scarce worldwide and you can hardly buy it with a clear conscience, the importance of omega-3 fatty acids of vegetable origin is growing.

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Omega 3: These 17 foods provide omega-3 fatty acids

Short and long chain omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential, so the body must get them through food as it cannot produce them itself. Like omega-6 fatty acids, they are polyunsaturated.

There are short-chain and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Short chain: The short-chain omega-3 fatty acid is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It occurs in linseed oil, hemp oil or walnut oil, among other things.

  • Langkettig: The best known are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They are mostly found in fatty fish.

Both short- and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are important for health, with the long-chain being said to have an even better effect. However, the body is able to convert the short-chain alpha-linolenic acid into long-chain EPA or DHA. How well this succeeds varies from person to person.

For example, too many omega-6 fatty acids can inhibit conversion. In order to support the body in the production of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids from short-chain ALA, it makes sense to reduce the intake of omega-6 fatty acids. If you want to be on the safe side, you can use dietary supplements in addition to a healthy diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids: effect and daily requirement

The long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in particular have a positive effect on health. Even in children, they promote the development of the brain and nervous system. However, a regular intake of omega-3s is also important in adulthood. The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends 250 milligrams (mg) of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) per week. This is possible, for example, by eating fish twice a week.

When buying fish, care should be taken to ensure that it has a sustainable origin. Supporting environmentally friendly fisheries can counteract overfishing of fish stocks.

Omega-3 and cardiovascular system

According to research, regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids can prevent cardiovascular diseases. The healthy fats

  • lower blood pressure and blood lipids,
  • inhibit inflammation and
  • reduce the tendency to thrombosis.

Sufficient omega-3 fatty acids can lower the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Measuring the proportion of EPA and DHA in the blood level enables important conclusions to be drawn about the cardiovascular risks of people. People with an above-average omega-3 index can expect around 1.3 years longer and healthier life than people who are less well supplied with these fats.

Omega-3 fatty acids can prevent dementia

People who frequently eat fish are also at the lowest risk of developing dementia and cancer. People with ADHD should also ensure that they consume sufficient amounts of food with omega-3 fatty acids as a preventive and supportive measure.

The reason for this is the protection of telomeres, which can be created by omega-3 fatty acids. Telomeres protect the DNA in cells. With age, these become shorter and shorter and the genetic information is more vulnerable. This increases the risk of diseases such as cancer or dementia. Omega-3 fatty acids can counteract this.

Menopause: Omega-3 against broken bones in old age

After the menopause, many women suffer from osteoporosis. Bone loss is reflected in a higher risk of fractures – the femoral neck fracture is particularly treacherous and common. American researchers have now been able to show that a high level of omega-3 in the blood and a low risk of breakage are related. A correspondingly higher blood value reduced the risk of fractures in the hip and thigh neck – regardless of whether the fatty acids came from vegetable or animal sources.

Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation

Nowadays, many diseases are associated with chronic inflammatory processes in the body. These include, for example, diabetes mellitus, arteriosclerosis and multiple sclerosis.

Omega-3 fatty acids can inhibit the formation of inflammatory messengers. This reduces the risk of various diseases. In addition, existing inflammations can be improved by taking omega-3s. The strengthening of the immune system and the normalization of the metabolism can also be achieved through omega-3.

Omega-3 for better eyes

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to slow down the process of gradual blindness in dry macular degeneration. The eyesight should also improve by taking the fatty acids.

Foods with omega-3 fatty acids

The best known source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids is fish. It should be prepared gently by steaming, grilling or baking. Dishes such as fish fingers or fish and chips, on the other hand, are disadvantageous: They mostly come from low-fat types of fish, but can contain unhealthy so-called trans fatty acids, which are formed when fats are heated repeatedly or repeatedly (such as when deep-frying).

Different types of fish contain different amounts of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. The information relates to 100 grams:

  • Tuna: 2,000 mg EPA, 2,200 mg DHA
  • Herring: 1,900 mg EPA, 2,100 mg DHA
  • Sardines: 700 mg EPA, 1,400 mg DHA
  • Salmon: 600 mg EPA, 1,150 mg DHA
  • Forelle: 400 mg EPA, 600 mg DHA

However, it is hardly possible to cover the omega-3 fatty acid requirement with fish meals alone: ​​high-quality fresh fish is one of the more expensive foods. In addition, most varieties are already affected by overfishing. With regard to the environment, too, it makes sense to also know herbal alternatives.

Vegan alternative: algae oil contains omega-3

Herbal products are a good alternative to fish. Algae oils are not only vegan, they also contain long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which have a better health effect.

But there are other herbal alternatives as an omega-3 source. It only has to be noted that it only contains short-chain ALA, which can only be converted to long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in the body to a certain extent. Other herbal alternatives are:

Some of the short-chain omega-3 fatty acids are also found in vegetables. Examples are green soybeans, dandelion, nettle or kale.

Hit list of the healthiest foods

Source: Lifeline | Das Gesundheitsportal by

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