Close-up on a woman eating salmon for dinner at a restaurant - fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids

Omega 3 fatty acids have been studied for years.  There are a number of health benefits to adding them to your diet.  Some benefits include lowering the risks of heart disease, improving cognitive function, reducing inflammation, and preventing certain eye diseases.

Omega 3s are found naturally in some fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, and   sardines.  Nuts and seeds including walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds contain omega 3s.  They are also found in plant oils including soybean oil, flaxseed oil, and canola oil.  In addition, omega 3 fatty acids are available in over-the-counter supplements like fish oil and krill oil.

The following are some of the health benefits of adding omega 3s to the diet:

Heart Health

Studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids lower triglyceride levels and help protect against some heart problems.  Omega 3s may help lower blood pressure.  They also keep blood platelets from clumping together, which prevents blood clots from forming.  Research suggests omega 3s may raise good (HDL) cholesterol levels.

Cognitive Function

Some research has shown that a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids may lower the risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other issues associated with cognitive function.  They may help improve mild memory loss in people with early age-related cognitive decline.  Studies show that people may receive the most benefit when taking omega 3 supplements in the early stages of decline.  However, supplements may have little effect on those with more severe cognitive impairment.  Other research shows that omega 3 supplements may be effective in treating symptoms of depression and anxiety.


Adult woman supporting her elderly mother on a morning walk. Concept of active aging and low inflammation.

Omega 3s have strong anti-inflammatory properties.  They are helpful in reducing chronic inflammation and providing joint lubrication.  They may be effective in relieving joint stiffness and pain for those suffering from different types of arthritis including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.

Eye Disease

Taking omega 3 supplements is effective in treating inflammation and reducing symptoms associated with dry eye disease.  Research suggests that omega 3s lower the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a disease that affects the central vision.  AMD is a common cause of vision loss in seniors.  Omega 3s may help in the prevention of the disease, but do not slow its progression if the disease is already present.

Dietary Notes

Omega 3 fatty acids are not produced naturally in the body, so they must be obtained from food sources or supplements.  Fish oil supplements are generally considered safe when taken as directed.  Possible side effects include nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, and an unpleasant taste in the mouth.  Diabetics should consult their doctor before taking fish oil supplements, as they may increase blood sugar levels.

The physicians at RMD Primary Care are happy to answer questions about maintaining a healthy diet or the benefits of dietary supplements.  Contact us today to schedule an appointment.