Omega-3 fatty acids

Synonyms: n-3 fatty acids

Medical Specialties: Cardiology, Family practice, Internal medicine


Clinical Definition

Omega-3 fatty acids or n-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats, termed essential, as the body cannot produce them. The primary dietary source is fish such as salmon. Fish contain two kinds of omega-3s, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-3s are a natural anticoagulant, plaque inhibitor and help decrease triglycerides.


In Our Own Words

Omega-3 fatty acids, sometimes called n-3 fatty acids, cannot be produced by the body so are termed essential fats since they must be gotten from foods. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are good sources of two kinds of omega-3s, EPA and DHA.

Omega-3 fatty acids have many health benefits, including reducing the formation of harmful blood clots, inhibiting the growth of plaque in the arteries that can lead to hardening of the arteries, and decreasing blood fats called triglycerides, which can boost risk of heart disease.

Relevant Conditions
  • Cholesterol
  • Coronary artery disease (heart disease)
Common Types
  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
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