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So Essential: Why You Need Omega-3s

From easing anxiety to taming arthritis pain, omega-3 fatty acids can help keep you healthy and happy...

By Elizabeth Barker
Posted April 16, 2012

SalmonLong touted for their heart-healthy effects, omega-3 fatty acids are proving more and more invaluable to your overall health. A type of essential fatty acid found in certain fish and plants, omega-3s can cool inflammation and shore up your defense against a host of health troubles. Here’s a look at the latest news on their good-for-you power:

1) Memory boost. In a 2012 study published in the journal Neurology, people with high blood levels of docosahexaenoic acid (or DHA, an omega-3 involved in regulating brain function) had more brain volume and scored better on memory tests than those with low DHA levels.

2) More peace of mind. Two recent studies suggest that omega-3s may enhance mental health. In a 2011 study, Ohio State University researchers found that medical students who took omega-3 supplements for 12 weeks experienced a 20 percent decrease in anxiety. And in an animal-based study published in Nature Neuroscience last year, low omega-3 levels were linked to mood disturbances and depression-like behaviors.

3) Arthritis relief. Omega-3s may reduce osteoarthritis signs and symptoms by up to 50 percent, according to an animal-based study released by the University of Bristol in 2011.

4) Sharper vision. Women who skimp on omega-3s are more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness), a 2011 study from Archives of Ophthalmology finds.

To up your intake of omega-3s, aim to eat oily fish (like salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and herring) several times a week, add flaxseed and walnuts to your meals each day, and fill in any dietary gaps with an omega-3 supplement. Here, five products to try:

 

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