Omega 3, or omega 3 fatty acids, is a family of essential fatty acids (1).
They are necessary for vital functions and the only way to obtain them is through food or supplements.
Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats and are classified mainly into 3 fatty acids:
- ALA: alpha-linolenic acid. In foods of vegetable origin and needs to be converted into EPA or DHA to be used by the body.
- DHA: docosahexaenoic acid. It is found mostly in foods of animal origin and is essential for the development of the brain.
- EPA: eicosapentaenoic acid. It is found mostly in foods of animal origin and can reduce inflammation.
Omega 3 fatty acids are found in cell membranes, especially in the brain, and their consumption is associated with better neurological health and a lower risk of dementia (1).
They play an essential role in other cellular processes such as inflammation and blood coagulation (2).
In diabetes or metabolic syndrome, the consumption of omega 3 fatty acids reduces the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, prevents the appearance of clots in the arteries and reduces blood pressure (3).
According to several studies, the intake of omega 3 fatty acids can significantly reduce the symptoms associated with depression and anxiety (4).
Likewise, of the 3 main classes of omega 3 that exist, the so-called EPA proves to be the most effective when it comes to treating depression and seems to be even more effective than the drug antidepressant Prozac (5).