Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Nature's Secret Weapon to Combat Diabetes and More!

Amcec Health
Jul 25 2023
3 Min. Read
Reviewed by

Desmond Croker RN, Dip. OHS, BSN, MSN, CCDE

July 25 2023

Health Care

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat (good fat) that your body cannot make on its own. You have to get them from food or supplements. They are called essential because they are necessary for many vital functions in your body, such as:

  • Building cell membranes and keeping them flexible
  • Supporting brain development and function
  • Regulating inflammation and immune response
  • Lowering blood pressure and triglycerides
  • Improving mood and mental health
  • Protecting your eyes and vision

There are two main types of omega-3 fatty acids that you need to pay attention to: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These are the ones that have the most scientific evidence for their health benefits. They are mostly found in oily fish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and herring. They also come from algae, which is the original source of omega-3 for fish.

How can omega-3 fatty acids help you prevent or manage diabetes and other chronic diseases?

Diabetes is a condition that affects how your body uses glucose, the main source of energy for your cells. When you have diabetes, your blood glucose levels are too high, which can damage your organs and increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, nerve damage, and vision loss.

One of the main causes of diabetes is chronic inflammation, which is a state of low-grade but persistent activation of your immune system. Inflammation can impair the function of your pancreas, which produces insulin, the hormone that helps your cells take up glucose from your blood. It can also make your cells resistant to insulin, meaning they don’t respond well.

Omega-3 fatty acids can help you fight inflammation by balancing the production of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory chemicals in your body. They can also improve the sensitivity of your cells to insulin, helping them use glucose more efficiently. By doing so, omega-3 fatty acids can lower your blood glucose levels and reduce the need for medication.

But that’s not all. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help you prevent or manage other chronic diseases that are linked to inflammation, such as:

  • Arthritis: Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce joint pain and stiffness by decreasing the production of inflammatory molecules that cause cartilage damage.
  • Asthma: Omega-3 fatty acids can ease breathing difficulties by relaxing the muscles around your airways and reducing the secretion of mucus.
  • Depression: Omega-3 fatty acids can boost your mood by increasing the levels of serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters that regulate your emotions.
  • Alzheimer’s disease: Omega-3 fatty acids can protect your brain from cognitive decline by enhancing the communication between your neurons and preventing the buildup of amyloid plaques that impair memory.

How can you get enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet?

The best way to get enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet is to eat more oily fish. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish per week, preferably those that are low in mercury, such as salmon, sardines, anchovies, herring, and trout. A serving is about 3 ounces or the size of a deck of cards.

If you don’t like fish or have allergies, you can also get omega-3 fatty acids from plant sources, such as:

  • Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and pecans are rich in ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), a type of omega-3 that your body can convert into EPA and DHA. A handful of nuts a day can provide about 2 grams of ALA.
  • Seeds: Flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and pumpkin seeds are also good sources of ALA. You can grind them and sprinkle them on your salads, cereals, yogurt, or smoothies. A tablespoon of ground flaxseeds or chia seeds can provide about 1.5 grams of ALA.
  • Oils: Flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybean oil, and olive oil contain varying amounts of ALA. You can use them for cooking or dressing. A teaspoon of flaxseed oil can provide about 2.5 grams of ALA.
  • Supplements: If you can’t get enough omega-3 from food, you can also take supplements, such as fish oil, krill oil, algae oil, or flaxseed oil capsules. Make sure to choose a reputable brand that has been tested for purity and potency. The recommended dose of omega-3 supplements varies depending on your health condition and goals, but a general guideline is to aim for 500 to 1000 milligrams of EPA and DHA per day.


Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for your health and well-being. They can help you prevent or manage diabetes and other chronic diseases by fighting inflammation, improving insulin sensitivity, lowering blood pressure, enhancing mood, and protecting your brain and eyes. You can get enough omega-3 fatty acids by eating more oily fish, nuts, seeds, oils, or supplements.

Try to make omega-3 fatty acids a regular part of your diet and see the difference they can make in your life. You won’t regret it!

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