The Many Health Benefits of Fish Oil
With our busy lifestyles, it can be tough to stay on top of diet and exercise. Luckily, there are some easy ways to boost your health without spending hours in the gym or the kitchen. One of the smartest is taking a fish oil supplement. Heck, even kids can take fish oil! This one pill has a range of impressive health benefits – from reducing unhealthy fats in the bloodstream, to lowering blood pressure, improving mood, preventing eye disease, and warding off cancer. What Makes Fish Oil So Healthy? We tend to think of fats as unhealthy, but when it comes to the fat derived from the tissues of oily fish, that wisdom falls short. The difference in fish oil lies in its omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat. Two of these omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Cold-water oily fish - including salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines – are the best source of EPA and DHA. Fish Oil Supplements Make Sense Theoretically, you could get all the omega-3s you need from eating 3.5 ounces of oily fish twice a week – and, in fact, this is the recommendation of the American Heart Association (AHA). In practice, however, regularly eating this much fish can prove tedious and expensive for the average consumer. Luckily, fish oil supplements confer the same benefits as cooked fish, and they're far easier to ingest on a regular basis. The AHA recommends that to prevent heart disease, adults should consume 1 gram (1,000 mg) per day of EPA and DHA combined. Potential Positive Effects of Fish Oil The list of potential health benefits from the fatty acids found in fish is impressively long. There are several, however, that rise to the top... Heart Health The number one health benefit of fish oil is its ability to lower triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood; high levels are correlated with heart disease and untreated diabetes. Studies suggest that taking fish oil supplements can reduce triglyceride levels 20-50%. Research also indicates that regular fish oil consumption prevents atherosclerosis in people with healthy hearts and can lower the incidence of death from heart disease in people who already suffer from the condition. In addition, by inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory compounds, fish oil has been found to lower high blood pressure. High blood pressure is also associated with heart disease and stroke. Depression Omega-3s apparently help reduce the severity of depressive episodes in people with bipolar disorder. One study also found that EPA in the blood of suicidal patients was at dramatically lower levels than in those without suicidal tendencies. Cancer By inhibiting tumor growth, omega-3s seem to protect against colorectal, breast, prostate, and endometrial cancers. Other Health Benefits In addition to these health benefits, fish oil supplementation may be effective for... • dry eyes, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration • painful periods and breast pain • miscarriage, high blood pressure during pregnancy, and early delivery • ADHD in children • asthma and COPD • preventing full-blown psychosis in those with mild psychotic symptoms • maintaining healthy joints • slowing the loss of kidney function in people with kidney disease Precautions If you take blood thinning or blood pressure medication, you should check with your doctor before taking fish oil. One Step Toward Health Most unpleasant side effects of fish oil supplements, such as a fishy taste in the mouth and indigestion, can be counteracted by storing your supplements in the freezer. Taking fish oil is an easy way to keep your whole body as healthy as possible. With the potential benefits so numerous, it makes good sense to add 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA from fish oil to your daily diet.