New Delhi: Omega-3 fatty acids are and should be an important part of everyone’s daily diet since they are essential to overall health.
Health experts have emphasised its importance from time to time and decades of research have been devoted to discovering the many health benefits of omega-3.
A source of both plant and animals, like krill oil, fish oil, flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp, etc, foods rich in omega-3 have the ability to fight depression and anxiety, improve eye health, promote brain health, reduce risk of heart disease, fight inflammation, fight auto-immune diseases, prevent cancer, reduce asthma in children, improve bone and joint health, improve sleep, make your skin healthy, among many other benefits.
Making an important addition to the list of its health benefits, a study has shown an association between omega-3 fatty acids derived from a fish and cancer prevention.
The study has also suggested that fish containing omega-3 fatty acids are more promising when it comes to cancer prevention than flaxseed and other oils.
Marine-based omega-3s are eight times more effective at inhibiting tumour development and growth than plant-based sources, said the study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
“This study is the first to compare the cancer-fighting potency of plant-versus marine-derived Omega-3s on breast tumour development,” said David Ma, Professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario.
“There is evidence that both Omega-3s from plants and marine sources are protective against cancer and we wanted to determine which form is more effective,” Ma said.
There are three types of Omega-3 fatty acids: a-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
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ALA is plant-based and found in such edible seeds as flaxseed and in oils, such as soy, canola and hemp oil.
EPA and DHA are found in marine life, such as fish, algae and phytoplankton.
The study involved feeding the different types of Omega-3s to mice with a highly aggressive form of human breast cancer called HER-2.
Ma exposed the mice to either the plant-based or the marine-based Omega-3s.
“The mice were exposed to the different omega-3s even before tumours developed, which allowed us to compare how effective the fatty acids are at prevention,” said Ma.
Overall exposure to marine-based omega-3s reduced the size of the tumours by 60 to 70 percent and the number of tumours by 30 percent.
However, higher doses of the plant-based fatty acid were required to deliver the same impact as the marine-based Omega-3s, the study said.
Omega-3s prevent and fight cancer by turning on genes associated with the immune system and blocking tumour growth pathways, said Ma.
Based on the doses given in the study, humans should consume two to three servings of fish a week to have the same effect, he said.