Understanding Omega 3 Fatty Acids in our Diet
What is Omega 3 Fatty Acid?
All fats are divided into 2 categories, that is saturated fats and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature. Animal products and palm and coconut oil are sources of saturated fat.
Unsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature and most vegetable oils come under this group. These are further divided into two groups monounsaturated and poly unsaturated. Saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids can be produced by the human body so they do not have to be supplied in the diet.
Some polyunsaturated fats are not produced by the body so they must be supplied in the diet and therefore they are called Essential fatty acids. There are two groups of essential fatty acids. The omega 6 family found in sunflower oil and safflower oil and the omega 3 family found in walnuts, soya bean, flaxseed and oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, salmon, etc.
The problem in India is that many people are vegetarian and donít eat fish. Also many may not eat walnuts and soya beans. Besides this the total fat content of soya beans, flaxseeds and walnuts as a food item is very high and we would not recommend this to be eaten by people who are already overweight or obese as this will hinder their weight reduction. Obesity affects people with heart problems, people with diabetes and also can lead to other problems like B.P, Gout and even Cancer.
Foods that will give you omega 3 fatty acids without making you put on weight are fruits and vegetable like cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, pumpkins, gourds, zucchini (tori)cucumbers, lettuce, pulses, kidney beans, navy beans, strawberries and raspberry. Wheat germ is a very good source, so eating whole-wheat roti or whole wheat bread daily at least at one or two meals per day will be a great help.
Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Adding foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids to the diet helps to improve heart health. It helps to raise HDL, the good cholesterol, lower total cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and lower blood pressure. It also can help reduce blood clotting in the arteries and protect from hardening of the arteries. It reduces inflammation and stiffening of joints in those with arthritis. Those suffering with symptoms of depressions, Alzheimerís and dementia are helped with the regular consumption of foods containing omega 3 fatty acids. Lastly it can protect against the development of cancer.