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Can Omega-3 fats help in tackling PCOS? Know all about its benefits!

Published on:14 September 2021, 17:02pm IST
Although much is not known about the cause of PCOS, we do know it has to do with hormonal imbalance in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids can help with that! Here’s how
Nina Maria Saldanha
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omega 3
Is there a link between Omega-3 fatty acids and PCOS management? Let’s find out. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Have you ever thought about what flax seeds, sardines, and soyabean oil have in common? These are all rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. For the unversed, these are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that the body doesn’t make. These are essential for survival; and hence must be provided through the diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in non-vegetarian sources in the form of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); and in vegetarian sources in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

What are some of the most common sources?

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): As mentioned above, ALA comes from vegetarian sources like flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, canola oil, and other fortified foods.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): DHA and EPA are mainly found in non-vegetarian foods such as cold water fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines, as well as fortified eggs.

Oral supplements

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Omega-3 has multiple health benefits. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Here are some ways to incorporate omega-3 fatty acids in your diet

-Vegetarian sources
-As part of a trail mix, or with dried fruits
-As part of a smoothie bowl
-In salads
-Fortified oils can be used in small amounts for cooking, and also as a salad dressing
-Fortified cereals and foods can also be had plain or in combination with other foods as well.
-Non-vegetarian sources
-As grilled fish or a fish curry
-As a soup or a stew
-Boiled eggs are a great way to also incorporate proteins and good essential fats to your diet.
-Oral supplements that can be taken on the advice of your doctor, and as prescribed.

Omega 3 fatty acids have been seen to:

-Reduce cardiovascular disease
-Reduce blood pressure, lower triglycerides, and increase HDL cholesterol
-Boost fertility
-Improve brain function and output
-Help in weight loss

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Stay healthy with Omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
The link between omega-3 fatty acids and PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, as it’s commonly known, is a condition which is typically seen in girls and ladies between 12 and 45 years. It is a condition that is characterised by polycystic ovaries (the ovaries have multiple cysts in them), infertility (or difficulty getting pregnant, and hyperandrogenism (high levels of the male hormones-androgens).

When you get diagnosed with PCOS, one of the main things that your doctor will tell you, especially if you are planning on conceiving, is that you need to manage your weight (gain or lose weight) and keep it at or around your ideal body weight.

It is also essential to manage your stress levels, and eat healthy. Following this, most doctors will refer you to a nutritionist for expert advice on ways to manage your diet, to control your weight and hormone levels.

Yes, you read that right. PCOS is a condition of unknown aetiology, meaning that we don’t exactly know what causes it. However, what we do know is how to manage it and control your hormone levels, so that this condition does not affect you adversely.

Many people with such a diagnosis, very often go on to lead very normal lives, just by taking care of a few things in their diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to reduce inflammation since in the natural form it is also a good antioxidant. They help to manage blood pressure, and blood glucose levels, and ultimately help in reducing body weight (if overweight). Moreover, they are also responsible for regularizing hormone levels, and thereby improving your fertility prospects. Along with helping with these, it also aids in relieving stress, and it could also have beneficial outcomes on mental disorders, along with PCOS.

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Omega-3 is the essence for a long and healthy life. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
In short, omega-3 fatty acids can help:

Mood control: Due to highly fluctuating levels of hormones, you could end up having mood swings.
Reduces inflammation and fatty liver: Most people who have PCOS are seen to be overweight with fatty liver (at various grades). Since they have antioxidant properties, they are known to reduce inflammation in the liver, and the accompanying discomforts of the condition.
Lowers triglycerides: When combined with eating healthy, and daily exercise, they not only help in lowering your triglyceride levels, but also LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. They also help to increase your HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
Lowers androgen levels: They can help in reducing acne, and scalp hair loss. They can also help to reduce facial hair growth, and increase sex drive.
Improves fertility: A good amount of omega-3 fatty acids can help in improving egg quality, and ovulation, which could have better results in overall fertility, helping in a possibly more successful outcome of pregnancy. Omega 3 fatty acids are extremely essential during pregnancy, because in addition to the above mentioned benefits; they also help with brain and eye development for the baby.

The last word
In short, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for our bodily functions. They have numerous roles and functions in daily life, especially with regards to fertility. Proper guidance by your doctor and nutritionist will help you in managing your health, with minimal side-effects and complications. Please book a consultation/meet with your doctor and nutritionist as soon as possible, to get their advice.

Nina Maria Saldanha Nina Maria Saldanha

Nina Maria Saldanha, Executive nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bangalore (Whitefield)