EPA & DHA – Quality of Fats Matters
The quality of fats is important for the normal functions of the human body. There are four types of fats humans get from the nutrition: saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and the worst group of fats – trans fats.
But what kind of fats are good for your health then? Saturated fats are not necessarily harmful but a diet rich in saturated fats may increase the bad LDL cholesterol in your blood. Polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats are the most healthful fat qualities and polyunsaturated fats (like fish and krill oil) are the most essential fats for humans, which e.g. decrease the levels of LDL cholesterol if used instead of saturated fats. There are two types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (1).
In this blog post, we’ll explain to you the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids called EPA, DHA and ALA.
WHAT ARE DHA, EPA AND ALA?
Fish is traditionally known as a good source of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. Sources of omega-3 usually contain several different fatty acids and you may have heard of the most beneficial ones - docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). These ALA, DHA, and EPA are long-chain fatty acids with plenty of researched health benefits.
AND WHY WE NEED THEM?
They all are necessary fatty acids for normal health. EPA and DHA have plenty of EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) approved health benefits, which wee have listed below:
- EPA and DHA support normal health of eyes & brain*
Did you know that your brain is nearly 60% fat and DHA is the main fatty acid of the nervous system, brain, and eyes? The highest concentration of DHA in the body is found in the retina, whilst it has an essential role for a healthy vision. The daily diet rich in omega-3 sources contributes to the maintenance of healthy vision and normal brain function.
- EPA and DHA contribute to heart & blood health*
It has been scientifically proved that DHA helps to maintain normal blood triglyceride levels and the daily intake of DHA with EPA together contributes to normal blood pressure. These effective fatty acids are also good for the maintenance of fasting triglycerides levels in the blood and omega-3 fatty acids are especially good for the healthy heart.
- They are good for the normal brain and visual development of infants and fetus*
Consumption of omega-3 sources is vitally important for pregnant women and the body likely needs more omega-3 fatty acids (especially EPA and DHA) during pregnancy to support fetal growth. EPA and DHA have proven to contribute particularly normal development of the fetal brain and eyes. The usual reason for a deficit in omega-3 during pregnancy is related to concern about the adverse effects of mercury. (2)
- ALA is good for the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels.
WHAT ARE GOOD OMEGA-3 SOURCES?
The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sea bass, which of you get especially EPA and DHA fatty acids. The best vegan sources that are rich in ALA are, for example, walnuts, hemp seeds, and flax seeds.
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*Claims used in this blog are approved by EFSA.