Last updated on June 1st, 2023 at 08:37 pm
History tells us that humans evolved by consuming a diet lower in saturated fat (fats from animal sources) and higher in omega-3 fatty acids than is finished today (Crawford, 1992). These omega-3 fatty acids including the benefits of omega-3 fish oil, are found in fish such as sardines, mackerel, herring, and salmon, containing vitamins A and D.
Our human body does not produce omega-3 on its own, so it must be absorbed through diet or supplements. The World Health Organization recommends consuming 1 – 2 portions of fish weekly.
However, if you’re unable to meet this requirement, there are fish oil benefits or supplements that can help you get enough omega-3 fatty acids. Today, fish oils are one of the most consumed dietary supplements, as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids vital for optimal health.
Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce pain and swelling and improve heart and cardiovascular health. They have also shown a link to improving mood and reducing depression.
The two significant omega-3 fatty acids commonly found in fish are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) reduces triglycerides in the blood, while docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is known for its positive effects on developing eye and nerve tissues. It might also help reduce the risk of heart and circulatory diseases by decreasing blood thickness and reducing Inflammation.
Fish Oils Health Benefits
The list of health benefits linked to fish oils is undeniably long; specific studies already support many. Below we have shared some of the most common Omega 3 Fish Oil health benefits.
1. Heart Friendly
Although fish oil does improve heart health, there is not enough evidence currently available to prove that it prevents heart attacks or strokes. Fish oil has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids (composed of EPA and DHA), which benefit the body by:
- Lowering the levels of triglycerides in the blood
- Helping increase the “good” HDL cholesterol (however, it does not appear to reduce the level of “bad” LHL Cholesterol)
- Helping reduce blood pressure
- Helping prevent the formation of plaques that cause the arteries to harden
- Making arterial plaques more stable and safer for those who already have them
- Keeping blood platelets from clumping together, thus preventing the formation of harmful blood clots
2. Mental Health
Our brain is composed of almost 60% fat, and this fat is mainly Omega 3 fatty acids. Therefore, Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for normal brain function. Epidemiological studies suggest that an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency or imbalance may be linked to increased risks of these conditions.
Some studies suggest that EPA and DHA could help treat neuropsychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and memory loss. However, these claims still need further well-designed studies to support the Omega 3 Fish Oil benefits.
3. Eye Booster
DHA is a major structural component of the eye, one of the Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. Studies show that insufficient levels of DHA may create more significant risks of vision problems.
Many Optometrists recommend taking Omega-3 supplements to support eye health, even though scientific evidence is still needed to support their use.
Our eyes naturally decline as we age, leading to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and getting enough Omega-3 is interestingly linked to a reduced risk of AMD. Still, present studies are insufficient to support all claims, and more well-designed studies are needed to prove its benefits.
4. Weight Loss
Obesity is one of the biggest challenges facing the world today. Approximately 39% of the global population is overweight, while another 13% is obese.
Obesity has been linked to many lifestyle diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Although, to date, studies have not shown unanimous findings and opinions are still diverse, fish oil can aid in weight loss in the following ways:
- Reduce hunger and appetite: In one study, consuming fish oils was observed to stimulate the ‘feeling of fullness’ hormone in obese individuals.
- Can increase metabolism: Metabolism is our body’s ability to burn calories and is measured by metabolic rate.
- The higher the metabolic rate, the more calories we burn, and the easier it is to lose weight. Several studies have linked fish oil intake to an increase in metabolic rate by around 3-6%.
- Improves the impact of exercise: Consuming fish oils increases the calories and fat burned during exercise. It is believed that this occurs because fish oil helps burn fats instead of carbohydrates as fuel during exercise.
- Converting fat to muscle: In some individuals, their weight might not drop dramatically, but body analysis reveals an increase in muscle mass and fat loss.
It’s important to note that taking fish oil is not enough to lose weight. The best approach is to combine proper nutrition with physical activity.
5. Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is our body’s natural response to infections and damage and is essential for healing. In that case, chronic inflammation severely harms your health.
Omega 3 fatty acids have remarkable anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the production of molecules and substances linked to Inflammation.
Researchers found that increasing fish oil intake can improve your immune cells’ ability to attack bacteria and decrease the cell activity that promotes blood clotting. Studies have consistently observed a connection between higher omega-three intakes and reduced Inflammation.
6. Glowing Skin
Your skin is the largest organ in your body. DHA is the structural component of skin and responsible for keeping it healthy. Omega 3 can protect your skin from sun damage, while EPA helps block the release of substances that eat away the collagen in your skin after sun exposure. This helps prevent premature aging.
These health benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids are just a few of a long list. Researchers still require many well-designed and adequately conducted studies to determine the underlying factors behind the known health benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids.
Animal-Based Sources of Omega 3
- Oily fishes such as herring, tuna, salmon, sardines
- Some shellfish, like oysters and shrimp
- Fish liver oils such as cod liver oil
- Eggs that are fortified with omega 3
Vegetable-based Alternatives for Omega 3
- Chia seeds
- Kidney beans
In addition to diet, individuals can also consume Omega 3 through supplements. Ideally, consume most of your Omega 3 fatty acids naturally through your diet and supplement only as needed.
The extraction of fish oil from fish tissue results in its high susceptibility to oxidation, leading to the efficient development of rancid-off flavors and. This makes it challenging for manufacturers to preserve and formulate fish oil supplements.
It is best to consult your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you are taking any medications or have a pre-existing medical condition.
Rick Kaselj MS, is a leading kinesiologist and injury specialist as well as co-creator of the best-selling Unlock Your Hip Flexors program. Rick creates exercise programs that help people heal injuries and eliminate pain, so they can go back to living a full, active, healthy life.