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Why Are Omega 3 Fats Good For You

What is it that makes Omega- 3 Fats so good for you?

As you probably know, Omega 3 fatty acids are found primarily in oily fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel. Over the past few years, study after study has shown the benefits of consuming these type of 'good fats'. There are two different types of Omega 3's contained in fish. They are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

While primarily known for their cardiovascular benefits such as lowering blood pressure, decreasing triglyceride levels, lowering risk of irregular heart rhythms and reducing the risk of blood clots, these fats may also reduce the risk of prostate, breast and colon cancer and assist in the treatment of hyperactive children, among other things.

The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish at least twice a week. However, due to pollution of our ocean waters, many fish are contaminated with mercury and other heavy metals. That's why pregnant or nursing women and children are advised not to eat more than two portions of certain types of oily fish per week. Some varieties of fish contain less mercury than others, so try and focus on the least contaminated varieties. A number of websites have lists of the safest and least safe fish.

Also, there are numerous brands and types of fish oil now available in supplement form. They come in either capsules or as a flavored liquid. If you're going to go with a fish oil supplement, try and select a variety that comes from areas of the world where the water harbors minimal pollution (usually referred to as 'pristine' on the label) and that is also molecularly distilled, which is a process that removes heavy metals and other contaminants without affecting the EPA or DHA content.

Should you not want to eat fish or take fish oil supplements, you can also get some Omega 3 fatty acids from vegetable sources. The type of Omega 3 found in vegetables is known as ALA, for alpha-linolinic acid, and is contained in foods such as walnuts, flax and flax oil, brussels sprouts, spinach and pumpkin seeds.

Given the propensity of food manufacturers to jump on the latest nutrition bandwagon, you'll probably not be surprised to learn that a number of processed foods like orange juice, cereal, bread, and butter substitutes have added Omega 3's, and some chickens are being fed special diets that allow them to lay eggs that contain increased amounts of Omega 3 fats. While the jury's still out on how beneficial to our health these fortified foods might be, consuming Omega 3's in either fish, fish oil supplements, or from natural vegetarian sources is probably a safe bet.

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