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Why Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy

written by Vidya Sury March 1, 2011

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All fats are not created equal: There are good fats, bad fats  Among the good are omega-3 fatty acids, which carry a lot of health benefits and help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

But what Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3s are called essential fatty acids because our body needs them. We can only get them through foods and supplements since our body can’t make them on its own.

There are three types of omega-3s.

Two of them, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease by reducing inflammation and preventing the formation of blood clots. Sources for EPA and DHA are mostly cold-water fish, such as herring, sardines and salmon.

The third type of omega-3 is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). A diet rich in ALA can reduce the risk of heart attack and lower LDL or bad cholesterol. Sources for ALA are flaxseed, canola oil, walnuts, and dark leafy greens.

How can you get your Omega-3 quota?

You can get your Omega-3 naturally through foods such as oily fish, dark leafy greens, flaxseed, canola oil, and walnuts to your diet. You can also take a fish-oil supplement with your doctor’s advice.

If you suffer from any medical condition or use anticoagulants, have a bleeding disorder, uncontrolled hypertension or high levels of triglycerides, talk to your doctor before taking any supplements. Some types of fish such as swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, contain high levels of mercury. Doctors advise women who are pregnant or likely become pregnant, nursing mothers, and children to avoid fish high in mercury.

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