The latest in Omega-3 benefits research comes to us from the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, where we learn these beneficial fats could help prevent the leading cause of age-related blindness—macular degeneration.
Researchers with the Research Center on Aging at the Health and Social Services Centre of the University Institute of Geriatrics of Sherbrooke have been looking at solutions for protecting eye health. In particular, they’ve been “studying strategies for protecting retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells.” The health of RPE cells is crucial to overall vision health, as problems in the RPE are linked to age-related macular degeneration.
The researchers found that incubating the cells with oils can induce positive effects in the cell membrane, protecting the eyes against retinopathy and eventual degeneration. The oils improved membrane fluidity, something key in vision health in aging eyes.
“Membrane fluidity, which refers to the viscosity of the lipid bi-layer of a cell membrane, is a marker of the cell function,” said lead researcher Prof. A. Khalil. “A decrease of membrane fluidity can affect the rotation and diffusion of proteins and other bio-molecules within the membrane, thereby affecting the functions of these molecules. Whereas, an increase in membrane fluidity makes for a more flexible membrane and facilitates the transmission of light through the eye.”
The scientists went on to conclude that a diet low in trans-fats and rich in omega-3 fats and olive oil could reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats, meaning we must get them through consumption. While supplement sales have skyrocketed over the past several years, a number of studies have indicated them to be less effective than eating the actual foods where Omega-3 fats are naturally found.
Good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines
- Flax seeds
- Tofu, organic and non-GMO
Omega-3 fatty acids are a popular topic. Over the past several years, these fats have been linked to numerous health benefits (and also some increased risks, in some studies) and have been catapulted to one of the most popular dietary supplements on the market. It seems we are still only on the tip of the iceberg, as new research is continually being released.
Including plenty of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet could help you fight obesity, prevent cancer, reduce anxiety, and, oh yeah, preserve eye health as you age.