- Last Update On : 2012-11-19
Omega-3 fatty acids are among the most extensively studied nutrients for potential health benefits. There are 2 major classes of omega-3 fatty acids. The first is alpha-linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid derived from plants such as flaxseed, walnut, soybean and canola oils. The second class includes long chain omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are primarily derived from fatty fist. Alpha-linolenic acid can be converted to EPA and DHA, but this conversion is inefficient.
Omega-3 fatty acids are the newest nutritional agents to be officially sanctioned by the American Heart Association (AHA) for reducing risk of death from CHD (Circulation 2002;106:2747-57). The AHA recommends that all patients with known CHD take about 1 g of EPA+DHA (the principal omega-3 fatty acids in fish oils) per day and that patients without known disease consume at least two (preferably oily) fish meals per week. This translates int