Omega-3 is one of the compounds that has become better known in recent decades.
Research has confirmed that consuming Omega-3s regularly can improve your health. In particular, it may have benefits for the brain, the heart, and the muscles. (1,2,3,4)
This article details the benefits of Omega-3, its function, and the amount in foods such as tuna, salmon, and chia seeds.
Omega-3 – What is it?
Omega-3s are a particular type of fatty acids or healthy fats.
Omega-3s are primarily found in marine food sources: blue sea fish such as tuna or salmon. They are also found in plant-based products such as chia seeds, nuts, olive oil, and canola oil. (1)
Including Omega-3 in the diet has excellent health benefits. They effectively improve the functioning of the brain and the muscular system. (3,4,5)
Studies have confirmed that regular consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a lower risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. (1,2)
In some organs, such as the brain, the concentrations of Omega-3 fatty acids are exceptionally high.
The main functions of Omega-3 fatty acids in the body are developing and improving the nervous system, strengthening the immune system, and preventing vision impairments. (6)
In addition, Omega-3 fatty acids regulate the metabolism of fats in the body—a fact directly related to the synthesis of sex hormones and the improvement of the cardiovascular system.
It has been proven that a deficit of Omega-3 can negatively affect the defenses and cause long-term weight gain. (4.6)
The science-proven benefits of omega-3s are described below:
- Improve skin health
According to a study carried out in Korea in 2005. EPA, one of the Omega-3 fatty acids, is a potential agent for preventing and treating skin aging. According to this study, consuming both food and supplements can help improve skin health. (7)
- It can accelerate muscle recovery processes
One of the benefits of Omega-3 is to accelerate muscle recovery processes. The fatty acid n-3PFUA participates in the repair processes after intense physical activity. Positive results have been reported in reducing the recovery time of muscle fiber micro damages. (8)
- Lower cortisol levels
Cortisol is the hormone related to stress. DHA, a fatty acid found in fish oil, appears to benefit from regulating its levels.
In a study published in Nutritional Journal, one group of people received Omega-3 supplements, another a placebo, and the third group received no treatment. The group that received Omega-3 capsules and the placebo had a significant reduction in cortisol compared to the group that received no treatment. (9)
- Regulate blood pressure
A high level of EPA and DHA fatty acids is directly related to improved blood pressure. One of the benefits of Omega-3 in the cardiovascular system is the reduction of inflammation and heart attacks, and it can act as an anticoagulant. (6)
- Prevent psychological disorders such as Alzheimer’s
Regular consumption of DHA and EPA has a positive effect on improving cognitive functions. The benefits of Omega-3 have been proven in preventing psychological disorders such as Alzheimer’s. (6)
- Lower bad LDL cholesterol
Several studies affirm that one of the benefits of Omega-3 is to reduce bad LDL cholesterol. The fatty acids n -3 PUFA participate in the metabolism of cholesterol in the body. These compounds can reverse the transport of cholesterol and promote its elimination in the body. (10)
- Improve fetal development
During pregnancy, the placenta transfers many nutrients, including the fatty acid DHA from the mother to the fetus. One of the benefits of Omega-3 in pregnancy is ensuring the proper development of the brain and retina. Research recommends consuming at least 250 g of foods high in Omega-3 at this stage of life. (6)
Recommended Daily Allowance of Omega-3 (ALA) – Table
|From birth to 12 months
|Children 1-3 years
|Children 4-8 years
|Children from 9 to 13 years old
|Girls from 9 to 13 years old
Omega-3 daily recommendation table by age. Source
The Omega-3 foods par excellence are blue sea fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, and mackerel. Some plant foods such as chia seeds and certain species of algae contain Omega-3 to a lesser extent. Examples of foods with Omega-3 are described below:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Olive oil
- Canola Accepted
Amount of Omega-3 in fish
The following table details the amount of Omega 3 in fish such as tuna, salmon, and sardines. In all cases, it refers to fresh meat. However, it is essential to know that the amount of Omega-3 in canned tuna practically does not differ from fresh tuna.
Surprisingly, the amount of Omega-3 in some species of artificially raised fish, like salmon, is higher than in other wild ocean species (5). However, it is essential to take a break and not forget the damage the fish farming industry causes in ecological terms.
|Total oil content
Detailed table of Omega-3 fatty acids per 100 g of fish meat. Source
Foods with Vegetable Omega-3: Which are the ones with the highest amount?
Chia seeds are considered the food with the highest amount of vegetable Omega-3. They have a concentration of 64% of fatty acids, kiwi seeds follow with 62%, and lastly, flaxseed oil with 55%. Walnuts and other dried fruits provide about 1.6 g per serving. These foods are considered Omega-3 due to their high content of α-linolenic acids – ALA (4).
15 g of flax seeds (one tablespoon) equals 0.5-0.7 g of actual Omega-3s. The one that stands out in the content of this type of fatty acid is canola oil, followed by olive oil. (4)
Lack of Omega-3 – Consequences
A chronic lack of Omega-3 in the body can lead to severe consequences for the body. In particular, the metabolism of fats is altered. The paucity of Omega-3 is an increase in cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, which translates as a greater risk of suffering coronary events.
The combination of poor eating habits with a lack of foods rich in Omega-3 will lead to safe weight gain. Visceral fat deposits are most likely to increase. This type of fat is what visually appears as a prominent and voluminous belly.
Food vs. Omega-3 capsules
To answer whether the Omega-3 capsules are helpful or not, it is necessary to define if there is a deficit of these fatty acids in the diet. A fish fillet provides a dose similar to a capsule; if it is to eat tuna regularly, the pills are unnecessary.
Omega-3 capsules are needed when a person does not eat blue sea fish. Salmon, herring, sardine, mackerel, and tuna fish are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Other types of fish, such as pangasius, have significantly lower fatty acids, so they should not predominate.
In summary, consuming 100-150 grams of bluefish fillet 2 or 3 times a week is enough to supply the recommended amount per day. Although the use of Omega-3 capsules is safe, it is only indicated when foods with Omega-3 are not included in the diet.
Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids. What does it mean?
A fatty acid is Omega 3, 6, 9, which means it has unsaturations in the different carbon atoms. The oil is called Omega 3, 6, or 9, depending on where this unsaturation is found.
The primary source of Omega-3 is fish oils. However, they are also found in some products of plant origin to a lesser extent, such as chia seeds and flax seeds.
Omega 9 fatty acids (С18: 1 ω-9) are considered “neutral” and most common in nature. They occupy second place in the cellular fat composition in the human body.
Combining Omega-3 and glucosamine is good for the joints
Combining Omega-3 oil with supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin is a strategy doctors use for joint treatments. A synergistic effect has been proven in optimizing tendon regeneration, as well as in relieving osteoarthritis. (9)
Taking Omega-3 in the form of supplements along with glucosamine is an excellent way to prevent arthritis and sports injuries such as tendonitis. (9). Studies have shown a significant improvement in the amount of fluid that lubricates the joints. The juices that surround them increase, allowing better joint movement.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats that can have significant health benefits.
- Omega-3s are mainly found in meat and fish oil, vegetable oils, and seeds.
- The regular consumption of 150 g of blue sea fish meat such as tuna (2–3 times a week) is enough to obtain the benefits of Omega-3.
- Vegetarians, vegans, or just people who don’t like the taste of fish should include nuts, canola oil, chia seeds, and flax to reap their benefits.
- Glucosamine has a synergistic effect with Omega-3 fatty acids in optimizing treatments for arthritis and tendonitis.
- Other benefits of Omega-3 are to improve the condition of the skin, regulate cholesterol levels, as well as prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s.