Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Brain Function
Omega-3 fatty acids are being promoted lately as the new wonder treatment for all sorts of health issues. Is this information fact or hype? How do we sort out the truth from all the other information out there?
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: The Facts
Without getting too technical, omega-3 fatty acids are actually a combination of several different nutrients. Some of these nutrients are produced by your body; others are not, and need to be brought into the body through food sources. By consuming food with omega-3 fatty acids, you help your body to produce more of the nutrients that it makes itself. Therefore, you need to consume outside sources of this fat in order to help your body create more of it.
What It Does
The cool thing about omega-3 fatty acids is that they help balance out the other levels of fats in your blood. Omega-6 fatty acids are a different type of fat, found in eggs, poultry, vegetable and margarine. Most baked goods are high in omega-6 fatty acids. These are the fats that can raise your cholesterol and cause blood clots. They are good for you in smaller amounts by helping your blood to clot. However, too much of this fat source can make your blood too thick and stick, causing heart disease such as stroke, high cholesterol and heart attacks. Omega-3’s work to counter this other fat and help balance out your system. It’s recommended that you consume 4 parts omega-3 fatty acids to every 1 part omega-6. However, the average American consumes 1 part omega-3 to a whopping 20 parts omega-6. No wonder cholesterol levels are so high, and heart disease is so rampant!
Omega-3 and Brain Function
There have been a number of studies linking omega-3 fatty acids to increased brain function. A Norwegian study reported those who ate 1 to 3 ounces of fish weekly scored better on a cognitive abilities test. A Dutch study linked, over a three year period, an increase in omega-3 fatty acids to a quicker mind. However, despite these studies and numerous others, there is no hard evidence that specifically identifies omega-3 fatty acids as the direct cause of increased brain function.
Sources of Omega-3
The most concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids is coldwater fish, such as herring, salmon, tuna, anchovies and mackerel. Other sources include walnuts, broccoli, cauliflower, kidney beans, spinach and cantaloupe. Flaxseed is the second most concentrated source of omega-3’s and also provides a lot of fiber.
Supplements Versus Food Sources
Many people take a nutritional supplement to increase the amount of omega 3’s and other nutrients in their body. However, it’s important to get as much of this fat as you can through diet. The body absorbs 90% of the nutrients in a food source, but absorbs only 50% from a supplement. While supplements are a great addition to a well balanced diet, they aren’t as effective when used instead of a balanced diet. Remember, there is no miracle cure for any health condition. They key to a healthy body is a moderate diet, plenty of physical activity and a healthy mind. Sources: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20070307/omega-3-fatty-acids-may-boost-brain http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20071108/eat-fish-get-smarter http://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/good-fat-bad-fat-facts-about-omega-3