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June 29, 2021

Everything you need to know about omega-3s

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One of the great delights during the summer months is indulging in fresh seafood. But did you know that every time you slurp down a fresh oyster, you’re giving your body a boost of valuable omega-3s?

While the name itself sounds like a compound that gives you super powers, omega-3s are simply a group of fatty acids that play a number of important roles in your body. Here’s everything you need to know about them.

Why are omega-3s so important in my diet?

It’s all about heart health! Omega-3s help your heart by decreasing triglycerides, lowering blood pressure, reducing clotting, and decreasing the risk of strokes. Unsaturated fats like omega-3s can reduce inflammation, which helps reduce damage to your blood vessels and prevents heart disease.

How do I get my daily omega-3s?

Getting your omega-3s is easy and delicious if you enjoy seafood. Fatty fish — such as salmon and tuna — and shellfish — such as oysters, crabs, and mussels — are packed with omega-3s. If you’re allergic to seafood or simply not a fan, you can get omega-3 from plant-based sources like chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, Brussels sprouts, and flaxseeds. Fish oil and other supplements can also be helpful, but it’s important to only take the recommended amount as some supplements can be harmful when taken in high doses.

What benefits exist beyond heart health?

There is ongoing research regarding the benefits of omega-3s. Studies conducted in one scientific review reported that omega-3s may help relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. There is also ongoing research into how omega-3s can be beneficial for diseases of the brain and eye, but there is not yet conclusive evidence for this.

Are omega-3s alone enough for a healthy heart?

Omega-3s are great for your cardiovascular health, but a strong heart also requires a healthy dietary pattern made up of nutrient-rich foods, regular exercise, and a tobacco-free lifestyle. Consult your doctor before you start taking omega-3 supplements, and work together to build an overall heart health plan.

Are there any concerns about omega-3s?

For pregnant women, omega-3 fatty acids can help promote their baby’s brain development, but certain sources of omega-3s — such as shark, mackerel, and swordfish — should be avoided due to high levels of mercury. Omega-3s may also interact with drugs that affect blood clotting, so anyone on medication should speak with a physician before taking supplements.

Whether your goal is to include more omega-3s in your diet or not, a diet rich in fresh seafood is great for your overall health. Studies generally show that those who eat seafood at least once per week are less likely to die of heart disease. So, treat yourself this summer knowing that you’re not only pleasing your taste buds… your heart will thank you too!

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