Why we need Omega 3?

Dietary fats have been traditionally looked upon as ‘bad’ because the fat, in general, is implicated in heart disease, stroke, obesity or diabetes. New research published in 2008 has indicated that India will bear 60% of the world’s heart disease burden in the next two years. Also, the prevalence of diabetes in India is 35 million, the highest number in any given country and that has been projected to rise to 57 million by the year 2025 making up one-sixth of the world total. Hence, this association between dietary fat and heart disease has formed the basis of reducing risk. But not all fat is bad.

Recommendations from several organizations like the American Heart Association (AHA) have stressed on ‘taking the right fat since the type of fat is more important than total fat’. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid, have been studied as a potential therapy for a variety of disease conditions besides heart disease.

Interest in omega-3 fatty acids first began in the 1970s when the beneficial health effects of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were described first in the Greenland Eskimos who consumed a high seafood diet and had low rates of coronary heart disease, asthma and diabetes mellitus. Since then, there has been significant research on omega-3 fatty acids that has reversed the traditional thinking about fats.

In addition to their evident role in the prevention of heart disease, the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in a number of other disease conditions viz. rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma, among others have emerged. The clear evidence of their role, especially of DHA, in brain and retina that has obvious implications for maternal and infant nutrition.

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