Health Benefits of Fish Oil: What Does It Do for You?
The American Heart Association
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times (two servings) a week.
The American Heart Association recommends that people without documented coronary heart disease (CHD) eat a variety of fish, preferably oily fish, at least twice a week.
People who have elevated triglycerides may need two to four grams of EPA and DHA per day provided as capsules under a physician’s care.
The American Heart Association
Why Should I Take Fish Oil or Eat Oily Fish?
Clinical studies support the following benefits of taking fish oil
- Decreases the risk of coronary heart disease
- DHA in fish oil improves neurological development in infants
- Reduces atherosclerosis
- Reduces triglycerides
- Improved cholesterol levels
- Decreased blood pressure
- Reduces the danger of stroke
- Blocks carcinogens that may lead to cancer
- Improves cognitive function and mood
- Improvement in morning stiffness for those suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis
- Proven to combat metabolic syndrome
What are oily fish?
Fish Oil and Omega-3
Fish oil contains Omega-3. Omega-3 contains essential fatty acids. These fatty acids are important for effective body functions but the body cannot produce these fatty acids on its own. We need to consume the essential fatty acids through our diets or supplements.
Omega-3 oils are also known as polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs).
What Are Essential Fatty Acids?
Essential means the body needs it but cannot produce it. Essential fatty acids are the omega 3, 6 and 9 oils. Flaxseed oil is Omega 3.
Cell Membrane: Fish Oil Benefits and Phospholipids
Phospholipids: The Function of EPA, DHA and ALA
Fish oil is rich in EPA and DHA. This is true whether the source is a fish oil capsule or by eating a form of oily fish.
Phospholipid: A lipid with phosphate attached. Phospholipids are found in the cell membrane.
Omega-3, the three essential fatty acids:
EPA: eicosapentaenoic acid.
DHA: docosahexaenoic acid.
ALA: alpha-linolenic acid.
Omega-3: EPA and DHA are the long chain fatty acids found in Omega-3. EPA and DHA is found in fish and fish oil supplements. ALA is a short chain fatty acid and is found in plant sources such as flaxseed, walnuts, soybean, brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, and salad greens.
What does this mean and why is it important?
- Phospholipids help keep the cell membrane fluid and permeable for proper function. Fluidity is determined by the fatty acid.
- EPA and DHA help maintain healthy function of our brain, retinal and cardiac cells and tissues.
- ALA is said to partially convert to EPA and DHA
Phospholipids can become stiff and rigid with the continued consumption of bad fats. Junk food and processed meats and cheeses are loaded with unhealthy fat. These fats accumulate and stiffen the cell membrane. If the membrane is rigid it does not provide the proper fluidity for the general functions of the brain, retina and heart. The fatty acids in Omega-3 will help the body maintain a healthy and fluid membrane.
What Are the Symptoms of Not Getting Enough Omega-3?
Deficiencies in Omega-3 fatty acids can result in a few tell-tale symptoms:
- mood swings
- memory problems
- dry skin
- poor circulation
Note: consult a doctor if you suffer from any of these symptoms as they are common with other health issues. Do not treat yourself without the diagnosis and guidance of a physician.
What Are Omega-3 Rich Foods?
Here are a few examples of Omega-3 rich foods:
- fish oil
- oily fish: salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and trout
- flaxseed oil
- canola oil
- olive oil
- winter squash
- navy beans
- kidney beans
Fish Oil Studies
Metabolic Syndrome and Atherosclerosis
Combined Therapy of Dietary Fish Oil and Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase 1 Inhibition Prevents the Metabolic Syndrome and Atherosclerosis, October 2009. ASO treatment in conjunction with dietary fish oil supplementation is an effective combination therapy to comprehensively combat the metabolic syndrome and atherosclerosis in mice.
Rheumatoid ArthritisSession 3: Fatty acids and the immune system Fish oil and rheumatoid arthritis: past, present and future, May 2010. A meta-analysis of fish oil trials that measured inflammatory joint pain, mainly with RA patients, reported a beneficial effect of fish oil on patient-reported joint pain intensity, number of painful or tender joints, duration of morning stiffness and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use.
Blood PressureLong-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Blood Pressure, October 2011. Increasing DHA consumption through diet modification rather than large dose supplementation represents a candidate strategy for future studies of hypertension prevention.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2012 Marisa Hammond Olivares