Omega 3 fats also play an important role in the production of powerful hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins help regulate many important physiological functions including blood pressure, blood clotting, nerve transmission, the inflammatory and allergic responses, the functions of the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract, and the production of other hormones.
In essence, all prostaglandins perform essential physiological functions. However, depending on the type of fat in the diet, certain types of prostaglandins may be produced in large quantities, while others may not be produced at all. This can set up an imbalance throughout the body that can lead to disease.
For example, EPA and DHA serve as direct precursors for series 3 prostaglandins, which have been called “good” or “beneficial” because they reduce platelet aggregation, reduce inflammation and improve blood flow. The role of EPA and DHA in the prevention of cardiovascular disease can be explained in large part by the ability of these fats to increase the production of favorable prostaglandins. The omega 6 fats serve as precursors for series 1 and series 2 prostaglandins. Like the series 3 prostaglandins produced from omega 3 fats, series 1 prostaglandins are believed to be beneficial. On the other hand, series 2 prostaglandins are usually considered to be "bad" or "unhealthy," since these prostaglandins promote an inflammatory response and increase platelet aggregation. As a result, it is important to ensure proper balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fats in the diet.
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