The effects of omega-3 fatty acids on health

The effects of omega-3 fatty acids on health

Omega-3 fatty acids are the polyunsaturated fatty acids having first link on the 3rd carbon from the methyl end of the molecule. Such an acid is the linoleic acid (C18: 3 n-3), which is found especially in the flaxseeds, but also in the sunflower seeds, pumpkin, rape, poppy, nuts, soy, peanuts and many other vegetables. In the recent years omega-3 fatty acids has many advertisements, especially because it reduces the risk of myocardial infarction. The fat from a series of fish contains long chains of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, which eicosapentaenoic acid is among them.

Omega-3 acids have no effect on total cholesterol levels nor on LDL, ie “bad” cholesterol. Instead, it showed that LDL plasma level increases after supplementation with 1.5-2 g omega-3 acids. It seems that this adverse effect occurs by the increase of very low density lipoprotein transformation (VLDL) in low density lipoprotein (LDL).

Omega-3 fatty acids

  • decrease the lymphocytes proliferation;
  • influence the chemotactic activities of neutrophil and monocytes;
  • inhibits the synthesis of proinflammatory cytokines (cytokines are synthesized by the activated cells of the immune system and increase the proliferation and differentiation of other cells as response to immune stimulation. They are soluble molecules, which carries the communication between different cells, controlling their differentiation, multiplication, etc.)
  • decrease the tend of platelet agglutination and tend to thrombosis;
  • tend to lower the blood pressure and triglycerides in the blood;
  • diminish the extent of myocardial damage after a heart attack;
  • decrease the risk of thrombosis after angioplasty or bypass;
  • stimulates LDL oxidation;
  • suppresses the growth of tumors and it seems that prevent breast and colon cancer;
  • diminish the inflammatory phenomena in rheumatoid arthritis;
  • has a favorable effect on psoriasis, Raynaud’s primitive disease, colitis disease, Crohn’s disease, depressive and exaggerated aggressive state;
  • have a possible prevention effect in obstructive chronic lung disease.

It is important to show that most studies on the favorable effects of omega-3 fatty acids, acid refers to eicosapentaenoic acid. It seems that many overlook the fact that eicosapentaenoic acid is not n essential fatty acid. The human body produces the eicosapentaenoic acid from alpha-linoleic acid, , which is found thoroughly in many edible plants. It revealed that when someone increases the vegetable consumption that contains alpha-linoleic acid increases and blood levels of eicosapentaenoic acid.

Recent studies show that alpha-linoleic acid, besides the fact that is converted  to eicosapentaenoic acid, presents a series of own advantages. Consuming alpha-linolenic acid, the body can use as much as it needs to produce eicosapentaenoic acid, reserving the surplus to meet other beneficial roles. This way will avoid the danger of eicosapentaenoic acid excess in blood, which can trigger a stroke by hemorrhage, as often happens to eskimos that consume large amounts of fish.

Totally vegetarian diet provides the necessary quantities of omega-3 fatty acids without exposes the risks of fish consumption.

Categories: Diet, Health, Nutrition

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