Want to be swimming in good health? Be sure you’re getting plenty of fish oils in your diet. Whether you eat oily fish such as mackerel, trout, and tuna, or supplement with fish oil, you’ll be diving into an ocean of health benefits.
We’ve all heard about the power of fish oils for good health. But just what exactly are we talking about? Dive into our fish oil primer, and you’ll soon be swimming in good health.
Why consume fish oils?
Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil include both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Both EPA and DHA are important for keeping our body’s inflammatory pathways and cells healthy.
Reduce joint pain
Fish oils may help lubricate our creaky joints, and they may do a number on pain, if it’s the pain associated with certain types of inflammation in the joints.
The power of fish oils to regulate the immune system and fight joint inflammation has led to plenty of research into how these properties might hold promise for treating different forms of arthritis. Studies have shown a strong benefit of fish oils in reducing joint pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, though clinical evidence isn’t yet as convincing for osteoarthritis pain.
Greenland Inuit who, in the 1970s, inspired an explosion of omega-3 research, not only had lower levels of heart disease and depression, but they also suffered less from asthma. Following this fortuitous discovery, scientists went to work to discover the reasons.
A recent study found that omega-3s in fish oil can reduce the production of IgE (immunoglobulin E), the antibodies that cause allergic reactions and asthma symptoms in people with milder cases of asthma.
Worried about misplacing your keys—or worse yet, your car? Don’t be. With fish oils as your daily friend, your noggin stands a much better chance of helping you remember those key issues in your life.
DHA is integral to neural membrane phospholipids that affect brain structure and function. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that looked at the effects of supplementation found that DHA, alone or combined with EPA, contributes to improved memory function in older adults with mild memory complaints.
Who knew fish could hold such power over our mental health? Countries where diets are rich in seafood not only are heart healthy, but also seem to have the distinction of lower rates of depression, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, and suicide.
Researchers believe omega-3s help optimize levels of serotonin in the brain —a chemical that carries messages from one brain cell to another—and ease its passage through cell membranes. Based on this knowledge, scientists have been studying omega-3s in treating mood disorders, including depression, with mounting evidence to support its role.
Lower risk of diabetes
We know that our diet is strongly associated with the risk of developing diabetes. Including fish oil in our diet turns out to be a wise choice when it comes to avoiding diabetes. The omega-3s in fish oil (EPA and DHA) may play a strong role in regulating our blood sugar levels.
Fish oil supplements raise levels of adiponectin in the bloodstream, an important hormone that has beneficial effects on metabolic processes that support insulin sensitivity and regulate glucose levels. Higher levels of adiponectin are linked to lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Protect heart health
Ever since Danish scientists pondered the low rates of cardiovascular disease among Greenland Inuit whose diets included high amounts of omega-3 fats, researchers around the world have been uncovering their heart-health benefits.
The well-established heart-healthy Mediterranean diet is also high in omega-3 fats, primarily from fish. DHA and EPA help reduce risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and they also help lower levels of triglycerides. Fish oil also appears to help prevent and treat atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) by slowing the development of plaque and blood clots, which can clog the arteries.
Including fish oil in your diet can also help with weight management. Research has suggested a link between low levels of omega-3s in the body and higher BMI (body mass index) results. It follows that researchers would investigate the role of increased dietary omega-3s in weight loss.
There’s been a lot of scientific interest in finding out how fish oils can help in weight management. There seems to be a link between omega-3s and body composition. By increasing metabolism and fat-burning potential, fish oil may prevent fat accumulation. Fish oil also seems to suppress appetite, which leads to the consumption of fewer calories.