How many times have you heard that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids is good for your health? The first thought that probably comes to your mind after hearing this is, “I’m gonna eat more fish from now on.” Yes, fish is the number one item on the list of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but why are these fatty acids important for your body?
For one, they have numerous health benefits. In total, there are 11 types of omega-3 fatty acids, which include:
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
- Stearidonic acid (SDA)
- Eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA)
- Hexadecatrienoic acid (HTA)
- Eicosatrienoic acid (ETE)
- Tetracosapentaenoic acid
- Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA)
- Tetracosahexaenoic acid
- Heneicosapentaenoic acid (HPA)
However, not all of these omega-3 fatty acids are created equal. The most important among these are the top three: EPA, ALA, and DHA. ALA is found in plants, while DHA and EPA are found in specific animal foods such as fatty fish.
Understanding Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that are beneficial for numerous body functions. According to a research published in the Journal of Lipid Search, they are recognized as a “good source of energy.” They also help in other bodily processes such as brain function, heart health, and preventing inflammation.
Inflammation plays a vital role in leaving the body vulnerable to diseases and infections. According to a study published in the Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, increase in inflammation leads to a higher risk of impaired body functions.
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and Healthy Aging
EPA offers numerous health benefits. It improves eye health, promotes brain health, reduces the risk factors associated with heart disease, lowers metabolic syndrome symptoms, fights autoimmune diseases, prevents cancer, alleviates menstrual pain, and enhances sleep.
When it comes to healthy aging, EPA can fight various age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. According to a research published in Neurology, several studies have proved that regular fish consumption can delay the onset of dementia.
Arthritis and osteoporosis are two disorders that affect the skeletal system in the elderly. According to a study published in Aging (Milan, Italy), seniors can strengthen their bones by increasing their calcium intake. It was revealed that EPA enhances calcium absorption, which leads to more calcium being deposited in the bones.
A study published in the BMJ journal studies the effects of different mega-3 fatty acids in great detail. 2,622 participants aged 74 were given food items such as fish, leafy green vegetables, seeds, and nuts. Their n-3 PUFA (omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids) levels were measured for EPA, DHA, and ALA between 6 and 13 years. The results showed that amongst the 3 fatty acids, EPA levels were the highest and the acid was 24% effective in promoting healthy aging.
This brings us to the conclusion that while the body needs all omega-3 fatty acids, a boost in EPA can help the elderly live a healthy and happy life.