Omega 3 fatty acids have recently been touted as almost a universal cure all, and the solution to many of America’s problems with fats. Omega 3’s are a polyunsaturated fat, however, I separated them from my previous post. The majority of polyunsaturated fats that Americans consume are Omega 6, so I separated Omega 3s in order to truly consider their heath impacts. Polyunsaturated fats are defined by where the first double bond is located, and that is where the difference between Omega 3 and Omega 6 comes from, where the double bond is located (American Dietetic Association 1599). The current dietary recommendations of the Mayo Clinic, the ADA, and Willett, all state that increased consumption of Omega 3’s is important for health (American Dietetic Association 1599; Willett and Skerrett; Mayo Clinic Staff).
This type of fat that is common in fish and it is partially responsible for the recent push to convince people to consume greater quantities of fish. They are also common in some nuts and grass fed meats. These fats are responsible for, according to Dr. Sacks of the New York University School of Medicine, “numerous normal body functions, such as controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain” and they “are also associated with many health benefits, including protection against heart disease and possibly stroke. New studies are identifying potential benefits for a wide range of conditions including cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and other autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis” (Sacks).
Reading this it is easy to see why Omega 3’s have received so much publicity recently. These do at first glance seem to be the solution to many of America’s problems with fat; however, they do seem to contribute to an interesting problem. Nagata shows in his study of Japanese men that consumption of omega 3 fatty acids from fish is significantly negatively correlated with total testosterone (Nagata 163). This suggests that Omega 3’s may have a deleterious effect on certain aspects of health, as testosterone level is important for both men and women. This is a small study, but it does point towards an interesting conclusion. Unfortunately due to the size and homogeneity of this study it would be irresponsible to generalize the findings. Omega 3’s possibly should not be universally recommended, that for certain people omega 3s may hinder in the achievement of certain goals. If this reduction in testosterone is important, many athletes and weightlifters, who are eating for performance and not for health, may decide to remove Omega 3s from their diets. However, Omega 3 fatty acids do seem to have a generally positive affect on health and therefore can be a significant part of a diet. Remember, no part of your health functions in isolation. All factors are interconnected.
American Dietetic Association. “Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: Dietary Fatty Acids.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 107.12 (2007): 1599-1611. Web.
Mayo Clinic Staff. Dietary Fats: Know Which Types to Choose. 7 August 2014. Mayo Clinic. Web. Second April 2015.
Nagata, Chisato, et. al. “Relationships Between Types of Fat Consumed and Serum Estrogen and Androgen Concentrations in Japanese Men.” Nutrition And Cancer (2000): 163-167. Web.
Sacks, Frank. Ask the Expert: Omega-3 Fatty Acids. n.d. Web. 9 4 2015.
Willett, Walter and Patrick Skerrett. Suprising News About Fat. New York: Free Press-Simon Schuster, 2001. Print.