Omega 3 properties

Definition, characteristics and benefits of omega 3 fats

What is omega 3?

Omega 3 is a type of fat that is found in large quantities in nuts and oil seeds, especially in hemp seeds, in flaxseed meal, in ground chia seeds, in walnuts and in fatty fish.hemp seeds
Hemp seeds are very rich in omega3

Peeled hemp seeds are the richest food in omega 3, they are also very rich in magnesium (one tablespoon provides the same amount as a magnesium supplement), and they are the richest food in phosphorus that exists.


What are omega-3 fatty acids?

It is classified within the essential fatty acids (AGE). Essential means that the organism can not manufacture omega 3, and therefore, this component has to be supplied through the diet.

Chemically, omega 3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid. It is called polyunsaturated because it contains more than one unsaturation (1 double bond) in its molecule.

Types of omega-3

There are three omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Alphalinolenic acid (ALA): Found primarily in the oil plant seeds. Among them, the most important are the seeds of flax and especially linseed oil, also called linseed oil. Other plants rich in this component are the seeds of soybean canola, walnuts, hemp, etc.

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): Found mainly in oily fish oils and milk. There are traces of it in the purslane.

  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): Found mainly in oily fish oils and some microscopic algae.

What are the properties of omega-3?

What are omega-3 for? The body needs omega-3 fatty acid to work properly. The main functions of linolenic acid are the following:

  • to manufacture hormones and anti-inflammatory components. Without omega 3 these substances could not be produced.

  • Operation of the nervous system: omega 3 is part of neurons and chemical transmissions of the brain and eyesight.

  • The formation of cell membranes, all cells contain omega 3.

  • Eye health: For the correct formation of the retina, along with vitamin A containing carrots.

  • The correct functioning of the immune system.

Omega 3 for the nervous system and eyesight

Omega 3 fats are found in high concentration in the brain and nervous system, specifically in the retina of the eye and the cerebral cortex.

A diet rich in omega 3 fats is necessary to keep this system in good condition. It is recommended to people with insomnia, hyperactivity, stress or anxiety.

It has been shown that omega 3 improves some psychological alterations such as hyperactivity in children. Supplements with omega 3 essential fatty acids are recommended as natural antidepressants, for mood swings, seasonal depression, etc.

Summary with the main properties of omega 3. The foods richest in omega 3 are fatty fish and nuts, followed by flaxseed meal and chia seeds.

Anti-inflammatory properties of omega 3

The body is able to make its own anti-inflammatories from omega 3 fats. In addition, omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic and antiarrhythmic, important in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, its consumption is very suitable in cases of menstrual pain, arthritis, gastritis, dermatitis, asthma, psoriasis, etc. The following article explains why omega 3 helps reduce pain in arthritis.

Properties of omega 3 for health

In addition to the basic functions discussed in the previous sections, it has been proven that the ingestion of omega-3 fatty acids represents a series of benefits for the organism.

Omega 3 in the natural treatment of diseases

omega 3 sources
Photo of omega 3 fatty acids food sources: Avocado, vegetable oils, nuts and seafood.

Types of omega 3 that we can find in food

Omega 3 fatty acids are a family of fats. It is a rather extensive and complex subject that is usually treated at the level of specialized nutrition. There are three main omega 3 fatty acids:

Foods that provide different types of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): Found primarily in the oil of vegetable seeds. It is the type of omega 3 with softer effects, since the body must transform it to be active and have its benefits. It is found in plant sources, such as flax seeds and especially flaxseed oil, also called flaxseed oil.

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): It is a more active form of omega 3 than ALA, has the properties already discussed, anti-inflammatory, antiarthritic, antithrombotic and vasodilator. It is found mainly in the oils of blue fish and breast milk. Cod liver oil supplements are rich in this component. There are traces of it in purslane.

  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): It is part of the tissue of the nervous system, and can be found in it in concentrations as high as 50%. The deficit of this type of fat has been linked to postpartum depression. DHA is found primarily in fatty fish oils and some microscopic algae. Cod liver oil supplements are rich in this component. It is the most important type of omega 3 in terms of its properties for the central nervous system, so it is very suitable for students, problems of memory loss, or people with depression, headaches, migraines, schizophrenia, dementia, Parkinson or Alzheimer .

Types of omega 3 and what foods are

Omega 3 metabolism

Omega-3 acid, called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), is abundant in vegetables. This type of acid must be transformed by the body to be active and have anti-inflammatory effects. In this transformation the organism is slow, so the effects are not as remarkable as in fish oil, which is considered a more direct and better source for the ingestion of this principle.

Foods rich in omega-3

Sources of omega-3

These essential fatty acids can be obtained from the following sources:

  • Oily fish: Contains two types of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) - sometimes referred to him as EPA acronyms come from English " Eicosapentaenoic Acid" - and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - also called DHA by the English form of "Docosa-Hexaenoic Acid". Fish oil is the richest in omega-3 fatty acids. (More information)

  • Hemp seeds: they have a large amount of omega 3, in addition, they are the foods richest in phosphorus that exist and also constitute a natural supplement of magnesium. (1-2 tablespoons of peeled hemp seeds a day)

  • Linseed and chia: in that order, are foods rich in omega 3, when they are ground or chewed. If they are consumed whole, they can not assimilate their fats, which are found inside the seeds.

  • Walnuts: Walnuts are the vegetable foods richest in omega 3. It is recommended to eat 7-8 nuts daily to get enough omega 3.

  • Other vegetable and animal food:T hey contain lower amounts of omega 3 than those previously described: other seeds and vegetable oils, flaxseed, tahini, sesame oil, quinoa, soy, pecan nuts, almonds, purslane and spinach.

For this reason fish oil is considered a direct and better source for the ingestion of this principle. Most vegetable food containing these principles are vegetable oils.

The one containing the highest proportion is flaxseed oil (533 mg per 100 g), followed by canola oil (111mg) or walnut oil (104 mg). Other vegetable oils that contain oil are soya, wheat germ oil or hazelnut oil.


Benefits of omega-3

Besides the basic functions discussed in the previous point, it was found that the intake of omega-3 fatty acids offers a number of benefits for the body.

Among all the advantages they provide, we could mention the following:

Beneficial properties for the circulatory system

Studies from Japan, a country with an oily-fish based diet, rich in omega-3, showed that the people of this nation have a lower circulatory disease rate.

Similarly, other studies carried out between Greenland Eskimos concluded that their diet, based on oily fish or seal meat, which mainly eats oily fish, was the reason why this people had a very low rate of heart attacks.

The intake of linolenic acid-rich foods or supplements that contain this principle lowers triglycerides, lowers cholesterol, prevents blood clots in the arteries by preventing platelet aggregation and also arterial pressure decreases slightly. In general, it fluidifies the blood and protects against heart attacks, strokes, angina pectoris, Raynaud's disease, etc.

Moreover, this cardioprotective role is also enhanced by the ability of these oils to increase the transmission power of the heart muscle and mantain a regular rhythm, preventing diseases such as arrhythmias.

Anti-cancer properties

The inclusion of foods or supplements rich in this component is protective against certain cancers, especially colon cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer. They can also shrink tumors by preventing the growth of cancer cells.

They also prevent the appearance of metastasis elsewhere in the body. In breast cancer, these acids inhibit the action of estrogens that are responsible for the development of tumors in the breasts.

Anti-inflammatory properties

It has been found that omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties for joint-diseases. So food, or, especially supplements, may be well suited to reduce the swelling and relieve pain in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and lupus.

The use of supplements containing omega-3 may be a natural alternative to conventional treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. It seems that this component increases the levels of PG3 prostaglandins, which have anti-inflammatory properties.

- Pains in the period: the same way can help reduce the pain caused by menstruation.

- Omega 3 and Crohn's Disease, ulcerative colitis, etc: Anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 can be used for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

Nuts are high in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids

Omega 3 for depression and mental health

The intake of these acids can help in maintaining a mental balance and avoiding depression (specially DHA fatty acid).

They can also help in the treatment of diseases such as schizophrenia.


These acids have a positive role in the maintenance of healthy skin, so they are appropriate to prevent or ameliorate diseases affecting this organ, such as eczema, psoriasis, etc..

Omega 3 for pregnancy

The ingestion of foods rich in omega-3 (specially DHA) is very appropriate during pregnancy to ensure that the fetus has a right brain development.

Mothers who have eaten foods with these ingredients have had children with a capacity of higher learning and with fewer vision problems. Similarly, it has been shown that omega-3 favored the motor coordination of premature babies.

Consumption needs of omega-3

Other plant sources in order of importance are:

- Almonds (Seed)
- Nuts
- Purslane (whole plant)
- Lettuce. (leaves)
- Soy. (Seed)
- Spinach (plant)
- Strawberries (fruit)
- Cucumber (fruit)
- Brussels sprouts (leaves)
- Cabbage (leaves)
- Pineapples (Fruit)

Supplements of omega 3

They are a good way of eating omega-3 fatty acids for people who do not take it from plant sources or do not eat enough fish. They are capsules containing fish oil, oil or flaxseed oil capsules.

Relationship between omega-3 and omega-6

Contraindications of omega-3

For proper functioning of the body, the appropriate relationship between essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 has to be established.

Currently there is a higher proportion of omega 6 intake compared to Omega3, that ranges between 10: 1 to 20: 1, when the proper ratio would be 4:1, ie four parts omega-6 to 1 part omega-3.

This enormous superiority of omega-6 may be responsible for certain diseases, such as heart problems, depression, diabetes. etc. The solution is to increase foods containing more omega-3, take supplements, or reduce the amount of foods rich in omega-6.

punto rojo More information on fats.

Other interesting articles

This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.
"Botanical" is not responsible for damages caused by self-medication.

Botanical-online is an informative page that describes, among other topics, the traditional uses of plants from a therapeutic point of view. Their descriptions do not replace professional advice. Botanical-online is not responsible for self-medication and recommends consulting with the physician.