Omega-3: Healthy Effects and Endpoints in Nutrition
Published on: 2015-05-11
The typically modern dietary imbalance among macronutrients leads to metabolic derangement of glucose and lipid disposal such as dyslipidemia, increased insulin resistance, and fatty liver, which are increasingly widespread all over the world and represent some of the characteristic features of the metabolic syndrome. Dietary fatty acids regulate several physiological functions, however, they have to be present in the diet in an optimal balance in order to exert their properties. Particular attention has been focused on n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and n-6/n-3 ratio, influenced by their dietary intake. Omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found both in terrestrial (especially in walnuts, flax, hemp and chia seeds) and in marine world (mostly in sardines, mackerel, salmon, halibut and krill) are essential for human functions, in particular for circulatory protection and, as a consequence, for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. They result responsible for numerous cellular functions, such as signaling, cell membrane fluidity and structure maintenance. They also regulate nervous system, blood pressure, hematic clotting, glucose tolerance and inflammatory processes in general. Numerous studies are providing evidence about their use in order to prevent and treat several diseases. Cardiovascular diseases, lipid profile’s alterations, mood disorders, asthma, cancer, and more in general all the inflammatory conditions can benefit from these valuable nutrients. For this reason, the daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids, properly balanced with omega-6, is crucial for any type of diet. Research has been carried out in animal models, tissue cultures, and humans: their beneficial effects have been shown in prevention and management of coronary heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, hepatic steatosis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, mood disorders, dermatological pathologies and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Omega-3 resulted to be useful in all inflammatory conditions. This review highlights the importance of terrestrial and marine fatty acids in our diet, focusing on their role in contrasting inflammation and risk for development and progression of several diseases and illustrate the numerous fields of application of omega-3 in both prevention and treatment of chronic and inflammatory pathologies.