Higher omega-3 levels (a.k.a omega-3 fatty acids) correlate with several important health benefits. So much so that measuring omega-3 levels in your blood looks to be a better predictor of your heart health than measuring serum cholesterol.
If you still have any questions about why you should maximize omega-3 levels in your diet or take it as a supplement, just take a look at the health benefits you could miss out on. Plus, you may talk to your doctor about the omega-3 index (O3-I) test — a better test for heart disease and stroke risk — to see if your levels are optimal. The test is demonstrated to correlate with dietary intakes of omega-3 fatty acids…
Optimal omega-3 levels do a body good
- Heart health: Higher omega-3 levels lower your risk for heart disease. Or death, period.
- Increased insulin sensitivity: You know that insulin resistance is the fundamental dysfunction behind diabetes and metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes), which are also risk factors for heart disease. Why take a prescription drug to increase insulin sensitivity (such as metformin) when you can take omega-3s or maximize it in your diet instead?
- Improved bone health: In addition to boron, progesterone, and estrogen supplementation, high omega-3 levels in your blood also will improve bone health.
- Treatment of depression: Omega-3 supplementation has been shown to be a valuable natural treatment for depression, especially if you can achieve a high level of EPA and DHA (omega-3 oils) to omega-6 ratio, as explained more below. In fact, people diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) and also those depressive symptoms but no diagnosis of MDD had significant clinical benefit from taking omega-3 oil treatment compared to placebo.
- Improved cognition and memory: Omega-3 supplementation improves cognition and modifies brain activation in young adults and in healthy older adults. A low omega-3 index is associated with cognitive impairment in the elderly and in adolescents. That’s probably because omega-3 oil plays a vital role in central nervous system development and function. I have even read that high omega-3 intake improves lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, and may protect against cancer.
Omega-3s – the good fats
Omega-3s are vital for normal receptor site function on your cell membranes, which is the “communication” function of all your body cells. Omega-3s encourage normal hormone function, which regulates your blood, heart, and even genetic function.
The three common types of omega-3 oils are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), both long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (oils) from animal sources; and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), a short-chain omega-3 fatty acid from mostly plant sources.
Omega-3 fats exist in a ratio to omega-6 fats. Omega-6 fats are inflammatory, while omega-3 are not. Although you need both (and will necessarily get both in your diet), it’s best to maximize your omega-3 fats and minimize omega-6 fats. Unfortunately, the standard American diet tends to be heavier in omega-6.
In my opinion, getting high amount of omega-3 oils in your diet, or taking a supplement, is a smart thing to do.
Some great sources of omega-3 oils include wild salmon, grass-fed beef, algae oils, walnuts and flaxseeds. However, you may just want to add oils high in omega-3 to your foods, such as over salads, steamed/fried veggies, or in your smoothies. These include avocado, olive, flax, linseed, grapeseed, and even krill oils.
Don’t forget to avoid trans fats – the bad fats
Trans fats are a “fake fat” filler found in many foods. Studies show that trans fats promote inflammation in your body, with the worse effect on your heart and your brain. Moreover, trans fats have been linked to cancer and obesity too. I know of a report that showed how trans fats initially measured in a food, will increase several-fold after heating them. The opposite health effects are found with omega-3 oils.
To long term health,
Michael Cutler, M.D.
Editor’s Note: It’s time you heard the truth about today’s “popular” heart treatments — the truth you won’t find at your doctor’s office. PLUS, discover new natural secrets that don’t require a prescription! Before you submit to any heart treatment, do this ONE thing: Read this FREE report…
- Harris W.S. The omega-3 index: From biomarker to risk marker to risk factor. Curr. Atheroscler. Rep. 2009;11:411–417. [PubMed]
- Harris W.S. The omega-3 index: Clinical utility for therapeutic intervention. Curr. Cardiol. Rep. 2010;12:503–508. [PubMed]
- Block R.C., Harris W.S., Pottala J.V. Determinants of blood cell omega-3 fatty acid content. Open Biomark J. 2008;1:1–6.[PubMed]
- Harris W.S. The omega-3 index as a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2008;87:1997S–2002S. [PubMed]
- Albert B.B., Derraik J.G., Brennan C.M., et al. Higher omega-3 index is associated with increased insulin sensitivity and more favourable metabolic profile in middle-aged overweight men. Sci. Rep. 2014;4:6697. [PubMed]
- Mangano K.M., Kerstetter J.E., Kenny A.M., Insogna K.L., Walsh S.J. An investigation of the association between omega 3 fa and bone mineral density among older adults: Results from the national health and nutrition examination survey years 2005-2008. Osteoporos Int. 2014;25:1033–1041.[PubMed]
- Carney R.M., Steinmeyer B.C., Freedland K.E., Rubin E.H., Rich M.W., Harris W.S. Baseline blood levels of omega-3 and depression remission: A secondary analysis of data from a placebo-controlled trial of omega-3 supplements. J. Clin. Psychiatry. 2016;77:e138–143. [PubMed]
- Grosso G., Pajak A., Marventano S., Castellano S., Galvano F., Bucolo C., Drago F., Caraci F. Role of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of depressive disorders: A comprehensive meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. PLoS ONE. 2014;9:e96905 [PubMed].
- Bauer I., Hughes M., Rowsell R., Cockerell R., Pipingas A., Crewther S., Crewther D. Omega-3 supplementation improves cognition and modifies brain activation in young adults. Hum. Psychopharmacol. 2014;29:133–144. [PubMed]
- Kulzow N., Witte A.V., Kerti L., Grittner U., Schuchardt J.P., Hahn A., Floel A. Impact of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on memory functions in healthy older adults. J. Alzheimers Dis. 2016;51:713–725. [PubMed]
- Lukaschek K., von Schacky C., Kruse J., Ladwig K.H. Cognitive impairment is associated with a low omega-3 index in the elderly: Results from the KORA-Age study. Dement. Geriatr. Cogn. Disord. 2016;42:236–245. [PubMed]
- Van der Wurff I.S., von Schacky C., Berge K., Zeegers M.P., Kirschner P.A., de Groot R.H. Association between blood omega-3 index and cognition in typically developing dutch adolescents. Nutrients. 2016;8:13 [PubMed]
- Logan A.C. Omega-3 fatty acids and major depression: A primer for the mental health professional. Lipids Health Dis. 2004;3:25. [PubMed]
- Ghafoorunissa G. Role of trans fatty acids in health and challenges to their reduction in Indian foods. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17 Suppl 1:212-5. Review. PubMed PMID: 8296340.
- Barnard ND, Bunner AE, Agarwal U. Saturated and trans fats and dementia: a systematic review. Neurobiol Aging. 2014 Sep;35 Suppl 2:S65-73. PubMed PMID: 24916582.