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Feeling Anxious? Pop Some Omega-3s!

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According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, women are two times more likely to suffer from anxiety than men! Although there are a wide variety of synthetic medications that can be prescribed, sometimes it’s best to leave those as a last resort.

A recent study from Ohio State University has provided evidence that omega-3s can help reduce anxiety as well as inflammation.

In this study, two groups of students were given either an omega-3 fish oil supplement or a placebo for 12 weeks. During times of both high and low stress, blood samples were taken from study participants to measure levels of inflammation. During these times, the participants were also given a questionnaire to measure symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Compared to the participants who were given the placebo, participants who consumed the omega-3 fish oil supplements experienced 20 percent lower anxiety symptoms and 14 percent lower levels of inflammation.

In addition to decreasing anxiety and inflammation, omega-3s have many other positive health effects including, but not limited to lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and increasing heart heath!

So you’ve heard a little about omega-3 fatty acids. Oftentimes, it seems as if they get a lot of hype. But what exactly is an omega-3?

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that are essential for well being. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “We need omega-3 fatty acids for numerous normal body functions, such as controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain.”

Although our bodies do not produce omega-3s, we can easily get them through various food sources.

Fish is one of the most popular sources of omega-3s. The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish to get the most omega-3s. Mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon are among the best choices when shooting for maximum omega-3 consumption.

In addition to fish, you can also get your fix through consuming certain kinds of vegetable oils, such as soybean, canola, and flaxseed.

Many green veggies also contain a healthy amount of omega-3s. Some omega-loaded veggies include Brussels sprouts, spinach, salad greens and kale.

You can even brighten up a dish with omega-rich spices like basil, cloves and oregano!

Although it is best to get your omega-3s through healthy foods, you can also easily get them through capsule supplements, like fish oil.

So ward off anxiety and inflammation the natural way, and try to include omega-3 rich foods into your diet!


Ask the Expert: Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Your Nutrition Questions Answered - The Nutrition Source - Harvard School of Public Health . (n.d.). Harvard School of Public Health - HSPH. Retrieved October 4, 2011, from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/questions/omega-3/index.html

Facts | Anxiety Disorders Association of America, ADAA. (n.d.). Anxiety Disorders Association of America, ADAA | Anxiety Disorders are real, serious, and treatable. Retrieved October 3, 2011, from

Foods highest in Total Omega-3 fatty acids. (n.d.). Self Nutrition Data. Retrieved October 4, 2011, from

Omega‑3 Fatty Acids May Reduce Inflammation and Anxiety in Healthy Young Adults. (2011, July 19). Natural Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. Retrieved October 4, 2011, from http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/072811.htm

Reviewed October 5, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.