Anti-Inflammatory diet factors: The benefits of Omega-3
As announced in our recent post, we’re embarking on a blog series exploring different dietary factors that contribute to an anti-inflammatory diet. This article will focus on the benefits of Omega-3—how they reduce inflammation, what other benefits they offer, and how you can incorporate them easily into your diet. As always, when considering how food and diet can affect your health, please consult your physician before making any changes!
Tell me more about these essential fatty acids!
Well, first of all, there are three main types of Omega-3 fatty acids that you’ll commonly find in food or supplements.
Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA) is found mainly in plants and seeds, like kale, spinach, soybeans, chia, and hemp, as well as in plant oils, including canola, flaxseed, and walnut oils. One of its major benefits is that it helps maintain normal heart rhythm and pumping, and it can also reduce your chance of blood clots. Its use as a medical treatment generally addresses heart disease factors, like hardening of the arteries and high blood pressure.
Eicosatetraenoic Acid (EPA) is a key factor in reducing inflammation and preventing the side effects of chronic, systemic inflammation. EPA is easiest to obtain through seafood and shellfish, notably herring, shrimp, eel, and sturgeon.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is critical for brain development in children and brain function in adults. It’s an important structural component of your skin and eyes, and it has shown beneficial effects on medical issues like arthritis, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Like EPA, DHA can be found in seafood, with highest concentrates in algaes and fatty fish like salmon. A six-ounce piece of salmon contains anywhere from 1,774 – 4,505 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids¹—for reference, one study² of 11,000 participants showed that an 850 mg dose of combined Omega-3s reduced heart attacks by 25% and sudden death by 45%.
How do Omega-3s prevent inflammation?
Well, scientists are still working out the specifics on this, but some studies³ show that cells can make something called Omega-3-derived metabolites, which can turn off the inflammatory response while still allowing for the healing of tissues and cells. The more Omega-3s in the cell membranes, the more of these metabolites the cell can produce.
Omega-3s also might have a positive effect on the amounts and types of microorganisms that live in our gut, which can influence our health. Studies are still being done to figure out the exact part Omega-3s play in this gut microbiome, and how it affects our health4.
You taught me so much you made me hungry!
We can help with that! Enjoy this recipe for a delicious honey and garlic glazed salmon. It’s delicious, nutritious, and full of Omega-3s!
We hope you enjoyed learning about the first factor in the anti-inflammatory diet, and we look forward to our next session, when we’ll learn all about Zingiberaceae!
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
- How Much Omega-3 Should You Take per Day? (healthline.com)
- Calder, P. C. 2017. Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes: from molecules to man. Soc. Trans.45:1105–15. doi: 10.1042/BST20160474
- Menni, C., Zierer, J., Pallister, T., Jackson, M. A., Long, T., Mohney, R. P., et al. 2017. Omega-3 fatty acids correlate with gut microbiome diversity and production of N-carbamylglutamate in middle aged and elderly women. Sci Rep.7:11079. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-10382-2