Omega-3 rich diet helps in treating breast cancer

Omega-3 rich diet helps in treating breast cancer

Most of us were given cod liver oil capsules as kids. We popped these obediently after our breakfasts, without much idea about how they helped us. Today the benefits of fish oil capsules, rich in omega- 3s, can be read in almost every magazine or paper you open.

Everyone is raving about “omegas” and their super health benefits that range from treating breast cancer to depression to attention deficit. Research has even found that they help in weight loss. But is there any scientific validity in these claims? We spoke to the nutritionists in the city to demystify these essential nutrients.

Among the types of essential fatty acids, the most important and popular ones are Omega- 3 and omega- 6 fatty acids. Our modern diets include very few foods with omega- 3s. By contrast, sources of omega- 6 fatty acids are numerous: they are found in seeds, nuts and the oils extracted from them. All the junk food we eat is made in vegetable oil high in omega- 6. Also, as these nutrients are not made by the body, we must have them through food. At least one percent of our total fat consumption everyday should be omega- 3 fatty acids.

You would find a number of research studies on the web which claim that omega- 3 fatty acids are effective in treating all sorts of conditions. To name a few: depression, bipolar disorder, type- 2 diabetes, inflammation, aches and pains and arthritis. It is also believed that these nutrients protect against heart disease and possibly stroke.

Japanese researchers have found that those who took 1.8 gram of omega- 3 fatty acids a day — in addition to cholesterol- lowering medications known as statins — were almost 20 percent less likely to suffer a major coronary event than people who took statins alone.

There is enough evidence to show that omega-3 fatty acids play a role in boosting the good cholesterol, reducing the inflammatory response, promoting the clumping of platelets, building cell membranes, controlling blood clotting and most importantly, promoting brain development in children. They are also believed to play a role in preventing cancer and reducing depression.We all require omega-3 fatty acids.

They boost our immune system. But children, pregnant women and the elderly require them the most. Also, those having high cholesterol or suffering from arthritis should not miss on these nutrients.Heart and Lung Institute. Omega-3s are also believed to help in weight loss.

Mindless dieting often deprives people of the essential fatty acids. To reduce weight you need not to cut back on fats completely. Instead, you need to eat more of the correct types of fats such as omega-3 fatty acids.

Though both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are healthy but according to experts it is important to maintain a balanced ratio of both the nutrients.

Any imbalance in the ratio or any increase in the amount of one family of fatty acids may disturb the metabolism of the other. But unfortunately mindless dietary patterns have ensured that for most people the ratio is highly skewed. This is also because most of the sources of fat we eat are from vegetable oils, meat and dairy products. And, majority of vegetables oils contain an extremely detrimental form of fat called transfats.

It has been estimated that often the omega-6: omega-3 ratio is 30:1 or even 50:1 whereas the ideal ratio should be 2:1.

Also important is to reduce the amount of saturated fats in your daily intake to make the most of food containing omega-3 fatty acids. To get the maximum nutrients from foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, cut back on saturated fats. This is because high amount of saturated fats in your diet hamper the absorption of omega- 3s.

A word of caution by doctors is to avoid eating excess of omega-3s especially in the form of supplements. Like with every food, excess of omega-3s could have adverse effects. Also, talk to your doctor before going for the supplements.

Most of the nutritionists recommend eating a balanced diet which provides sufficient omega-3s instead of going in for supplements.

This is because food, such as fish and green leafy vegetables, which contain omega-3 fats have other good nutrients as well whereas supplements just provide a few nutrients.

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