There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to fats. Fat has been so demonized in the media that most women are terrified of it, convinced that too much fat in their diet will actually make them “fat!” The truth is that fat is an essential part of a healthy diet, but some fats, such as Omega-3 fatty acids, are far healthier than others. The trick is knowing which fats are good to eat.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that help the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, and immune systems function at optimal levels, and they are vital for overall health. Our bodies cannot make omega-3 fats, so they must be obtained through the food we consume. Sources of omega-3 include: oily fish (such as salmon), eggs, beans, leafy vegetables, flaxseed, and walnuts. Omega-3 fatty acids are valuable to everyone’s health, but are especially beneficial to menopausal and postmenopausal women because they help to alleviate related health concerns.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to lower triglycerides levels, meaning that they help to prevent cardiovascular disease. This is especially important for postmenopausal women who typically show a high ratio of triglycerides to “good” cholesterol (HDL), and are thus at a higher risk for heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids also possess anti-inflammatory qualities, meaning that they help in reducing symptoms related to joint pain arising from menopausal arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Research has also shown that omega-3 fatty acids may prevent and relieve psychological issues such as depression and anxiety, which many menopausal and perimenopausal women suffer from. Furthermore, studies have found that eating omega-3s can significantly reduce vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes, possibly due to the omega-3 influence on nerve cell membranes. In fact, it is believed that a diet rich in omega-3s is why Japanese women—whose diets are rich in fish and seaweed—have far fewer adverse symptoms of menopause than American women typically have.