Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

Why You Should Eat Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Photo by Tom Hermans

There have been two recent studies that have come out that have concluded improved longevity for those who have diets with higher amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids.

What are Omega 3 Fatty acids?

  • They are essential fatty acids that you can only get from your diet.
  • The body uses omega-3 fatty acids to maintain cell function as well as an energy source.
  • There are 3 main types
    • ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) plant based source
    • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) animal source
    • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) animal source

Health benefits

  • Reduced risk of inflammatory diseases
  • Helps with depression and anxiety symptoms
  • Good for eye health
  • Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Helps with arthritis and reduces joint pain
  • Supports development of fetal brain during pregnancy and reduces incidence of preterm labor
  • Reduces premature aging of skin, reduces risk of acne

Foods that contain Omega 3 fatty acids

Fish oil, fatty fish, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, soybeans, canola oil, walnuts, chia seeds (Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil contrain 45-55% of fatty acids as ALA, walnuts contain about 5-10% of fatty acids as ALA).

Relevant studies

  • A study published in June 2021 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrtion tracked 2240 people over 11 years and omega-3 levels in the blood checked. It was found that nonsmokers with high omega-3 blood levels had highest survival estimate. Researchers concluded that those over the age of 65 years with higher omega-3 blood levels had a lower mortality rate.

  • A meta-analysis of 41 studies published in the British Medical Journal published on October 14, 2021 found that those with diets with higher levels of ALA had associations with overall lower mortality risk.