Omega-3 Fatty Acids Do More Than You Think

People with rheumatoid arthritis have higher levels of substance called cytokines that ramp up inflammation in the body. Polyunsaturated fats – especially omega-3 fatty acids – help suppress cytokines and other inflammatory chemicals. These good fats also help decrease LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglyceride levels when used to replace saturated and trans fats in the diet.

High levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (fats in the blood) promote inflammation, which is thought to play a critical role in heart disease. That’s important for people with rheumatoid arthritis, which have significantly higher risk of heart disease.

All fish have some omega-3s but salmon, herring, sardines and anchovies are chock full of them. Salmon provides the most, with up to 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per 3-ounce serving. Go lightly with the heat; overcooking can destroy more than half of the omega-3s. Bake or grill fish instead of frying it to preserve healthful fat.

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week. Fish high in omega-3s are powerful anti-inflammatory foods that offer a multitude of health benefits. Don’t like fish? Other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, canola oil and soy beans. Or ask your doctor about omega-3 supplements derived from plants.

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