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Health benefits of omega-3s


WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Omega-3s are a whole family of polyunsaturated fatty acids, derived from alpha-linolenic acid or ALA.

Oily fish are nature's richest source of omega-3s. They are also found in flaxseed oil, walnuts, vegetable oils and supplements.

So what are the health benefits of omega-3?

The heart

There is enough evidence for omega-3 from oily fish reducing the risk of cardiovascular and heart disease that the government recommends having at least two portions of fish per week and one of them should be oily fish. This also helps to lower blood pressure and reduce the build-up of harmful fat in the arteries.

Oily fish doesn’t just provide omega-3, it also delivers nutrients such as vitamin A and vitamin D.

The eyes

There is some evidence that oily fish may help reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, however further studies are needed to confirm the findings.

The brain

Omega-3 has been studied as a way to help reduce the risk of dementia. So far there's not been any conclusive proof of it helping to stop any decline in brain function in healthy older people.

Prostate cancer

There's some evidence that oily fish and omega-3 helps to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. But more research is needed to confirm this.

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Reviewed on December 30, 2013

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