Fatty Acids - Omega 3
Around two million years ago our early ancestors started eating more meat that came from rivers and the sea. This made a big difference to the evolution of our brains. Suddenly our less well adapted brains got an injection of two essential fatty acids, namely EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). This promoted brain growth and complexity. We knew that there had been some sort of 'big leap' in our cognitive abilities around this time too, but there is now growing evidence that this was the cause of it.
We have all heard about the many benefits of Omega 3 over the past few years. As a result of this many studies have been carried out. The defining voice of evidence from these studies certainly suggests that the benefits of eating fish, particularly oily fish, has many beneficial attributes that help our bodies in many different ways. What is interesting is that Omega 3 is also called essential fatty acids and yet our bodies don't actually manufacture them. We have to get them from food. This is interesting because it may mean that our brains have evolved as a result of continued ingestion of these fatty acids and that we now require them to continue on the same complex cerebral path that we have been on for the past two million years or so.
Some of the main benefits of Omega omega 3 are listed here:-
May reduce risks of many cancers
provides some relief for arthritis sufferers
prevents cardiovascular disease
improves memory and concentration
lowers high blood pressure
may help with depression
There are many sources of Omega 3 and they are not all in the form of fish. One source which would be of interest to vegetarians is Flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil contains Omega 3 as well as some Omega 6 too. Omega 6 is thought to be essential in keeping our bones in good condition as well as promoting skin and hair growth. The reproductive system is thought to benefit from it too.
The question of how we get our Omega 3 is a complex one. Fish is a good source of Omega 3, but in order for you to get a good amount of it you would need to consume large quantities of oily fish every day. This would not have been an issue for our early ancestors, but these days there are way too many toxins in the sea which fish store in their flesh. These toxins include PCB's (Polychlorinated biphenyls), mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium, dioxins etc.
A better and safer way to provide our daily intake of Omega 3 would be in supplement form. Of course, these supplements are usually purified to a high degree which reduces the level of toxins in each capsule. However, some products are better at doing this than others and if you are going to buy these supplements then you should try and find out a little more about how well the particular brand have purified their product to get rid of these toxins. By and large it would probably be safer to stick to supplements for your daily intake. That's not to say that we should never eat fish again, but it would be better to keep your intake of certain types of fish to a minimum.
With all these benefits it is clear that Omega 3 is very beneficial for our bodies and our brains. We should be actively seeking out the right kinds of foods or supplements that will help us get our daily intake and keep our bodies working that little bit better and lasting that little bit longer.
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