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Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that are essential for human health. They participate in pathways involved in the biosynthesis of hormones that regulate blood clotting and the contraction and relaxation of artery walls. Byproducts of omega-3 fatty acid metabolism, called specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs), reduce the inflammation that drives many chronic diseases. Findings from a new clinical study suggest that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increases blood levels of SPMs up to 24 hours after ingestion.

Four families of SPMs have been identified and include the resolvins, lipoxins, protectins, and maresins. These SPMs promote apoptosis, regulate leukocyte (white blood cell) activity, and reduce the production of proinflammatory mediators.

The double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover study involved 22 healthy volunteers between the ages of 19 and 37 who took a marine oil supplement enriched in omega-3 fatty acids. At 2, 4, 6, and 24 hours after taking the supplement, participants provided blood samples for analysis, which revealed a time- and dose-dependent increase in blood SPM levels that persisted for up to 24 hours.

Omega-3 fatty acids include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found mainly in plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils. DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood. The human body can convert some ALA into EPA and then to DHA, but the process is very inefficient.

Salmon roe is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA. This short recipe video shows a fun, tasty way to eat salmon roe.

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