What are omega – 3?

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fast, meaning they are essential for life and good health. They can not be made by the body, so you have to get them from food in your diet.

There are two essential fatty acids:

  • Omega-3 (linolenic acid) Omega-3 fatty acids are available from certain plant oils, such as flaxseed oil, and from fish oils.
  • Omega-6 (linoleic acid) Omega-6 fatty acids are found in soybean, sunflower and safflower products. Omega-9 fatty acids, found in avocados, are nonessential.

Studies support the health benefits of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (most commonly found in fish oil) for behaviour, mood, mental function and maintenance of good health. Omega-3 can help treat inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and skin conditions such as psoriasis.
According to the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, almost 20 per cent of the population may have undetectable levels of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, and of concern, is the fact that many people have a very high intake of omega-6s and not enough omega-3s. This creates a tendency toward inflammation and can increase the risk of conditions such as high blood pressure. As a result, it is important that people begin to consume additional sources of omega-3 and not rely solely on omega 3-6-9 supplements.

Flaxseed oil and ground flaxseeds have different functions:

  • Flaxseed oil has a high concentration of omega-3 and helps lower cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health.
  • Ground flaxseeds are an excellent source of healthy fat, dietary fibre and lignans.

They also help balance blood glucose levels. Lignan, a type of nutrient, is being studied for its potential health benefits, primarily due to recent studies indicating their potential anti-cancer properties, especially for breast, prostate and colon cancer.

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