Most of us have heard of omega-3 fatty acids. The phrase may sound familiar, and you may be able to recall a few foods that are good sources of them. Do you really know what omega-3s are?

Essentially, omega-3 fats come in three different forms: DHA, EPA and ALA. ALA is the fat that is found in nuts, seeds and pastured animal foods like grass-fed beef. Both EPA and DHA are both found in fatty fish like mackerel and salmon. EPA and DHA are especially crucial as they contain more omega-3 benefits than ALA omega-3s. In order for your body function properly, you should eat a sufficient amount of omega-3 fatty acids.

Not only do omega-3 fatty acids help your body run smoothly, but they also offer several other great health benefits. Read on below for some of the top reasons you should include omega-3 fats in your diet.

They work to fight depression and anxiety

Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental disorders today. Studies have found that those who consume adequate amounts of omega-3 fats regularly are less likely to suffer from depression. Furthermore, those that are already suffering from these mental illnesses can reduce their symptoms when they increase their consumption of omega-3 supplements.

They are good for babies’ development

As babies grow both inside and outside of the womb, omega-3s are vital for regular brain growth and development. In fact, DHA makes up about 40% of the polyunsaturated fats in the brain and about 60% of them in the retina of the eye. This explains why infants who are fed a sufficient amount of DHA fats in their diets develop better eyesight than those who are not.

Babies of mothers who consume omega-3 fats during their pregnancies are associated with higher intellect, better social skills, and decreased risks of ADHD, autism, and developmental delay.

They can reduce your risk of heart disease

Omega-3 fats have been linked to several factors that work to decrease your risk of heart disease. These include a reduction in triglycerides, blood pressure and inflammation. Furthermore, omega-3s help to raise HDL-cholesterol (which is considered “good cholesterol”) and can keep blood platelets from clotting together. They also reduce plaque buildup in arteries, which can restrict and harden them.

They can improve the health of bones and joints

Omega-3 fats have been proven to increase the levels of calcium in bones, which in turn reduces the risk of osteoporosis. The consumption of these fats is also linked to a reduction of the symptoms of arthritis. Studies have shown that consumption of omega-3s amongst arthritis patients has resulted in reduced joint pain and an increase in grip strength.

They are great for skin health

DHA is a part of the structure of our skin. It maintains the health of the cell membranes. Consumption of EPA also works to improve skin health by maintaining oil production and hydration as well as preventing acne, premature aging and hyperkeratinization of hair follicles. To ensure you are consuming enough omega-3 fatty acids, make sure you are including foods rich in these fats in your diet. Great options are salmon, sardines, mackerel, grass-fed beef, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, tuna and grass-fed dairy. It can be overwhelming to guarantee you are getting all of your nutrients from whole foods. That is why the use of a supplement is a great option for those who struggle. Check out our selection of omega-3 supplements on our site.