Omega 3 Fatty Acids - The Power of Fish | Cleveland Clinic

The Power of Fish

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat the body cannot make on its own. They are an essential fat, which means they are needed to survive. We get the omega-3 fatty acids we need from the foods we eat.

What are the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids?

Fish are the best food source of omega-3 fatty acids. Some plants also contain omega-3 fatty acids.

What do EPA, DHA and ALA mean?

There are two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids in fish — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The form of omega-3 in plants is called alpha-linolenic (ALA).

How do omega-3 Fatty Acids help improve my health?

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids can improve your cardiovascular health. Most of this research involves EPA + DHA, but ALA can also help improve your health. Benefits of including omega-3 fatty acids in your diet include:

  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Reduced risk of death if you have cardiovascular disease.
  • Reduced risk of sudden cardiac death caused by an abnormal heart rhythm.
  • Reduced risk of blood clots because omega-3 fatty acids help prevent blood platelets from clumping together.
  • Keeping the lining of the arteries smooth and free of damage that can lead to thick, hard arteries. This helps keep plaque from forming in the arteries.
  • Lowering triglyceride levels by slowing the rate they form in the liver. High levels of triglycerides in the blood increase the risk of heart disease.
  • Less inflammation. Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is thought to involve your body's inflammatory response. Omega-3 fatty acids slow production of substances that are released during the inflammatory response.

Omega-3 fatty acids may also:

  • Raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL/“good” cholesterol).
  • Lower blood pressure. People who eat fish tend to have lower blood pressure than those who don’t.

Reviewed: 06/17