One of the primary reasons we are told to stay away from fast food is because of those deep-fat-fried potatoes. The oil. One of the primary reasons we are told to steam, poach, bake and grill our foods is to stay away from the butters and lards and, you guessed it, the oil. Why, then, are we told that fish oil is good for us?
To someone who doesn’t yet know the difference in fats, it can all seem a bit confusing. Steer clear of that vegetable oil and butter, but make sure to use olive oil and to get some fish oil. It seems a bit contradictory.
But the science behind it is completely sound. Some fats are bad, others are good. That’s just the way health works. While trans fats and saturated fats are bad for you body in numerous ways, fats that you will find in fish, like omega-3 fatty acids, actually have numerous health benefits.
What you need to know
Before we get into the benefits of fish oil, however, we will go over some things you need to know about eating fish in general.
Fish oil can be found in the tissues of oily fish, usually deep-water fish. However, the fish itself does not produce omega-3 fatty acids in its tissue. Instead, smaller fish (prey fish) ingest these fatty acids by consuming microalgae on the sea floor and on reef structures. You end up finding omega-3 in other larger fish (predatory fish) because they eat these smaller fish and thus ingest the omega-3.
Herring and sardines, the prey fish eating the algae directly, can be found but are not extremely popular. Instead, we find fish like sharks, tilefish, tuna and sword fish to be the more popular, tastier option. But due to the nature of these fish, eating a variety of creatures in the ocean, they also pick up toxins like dioxin, PCBs, chlordane and mercury.
So while you do want to ingest omega-3 fatty acids for your health, you should really refrain from eating a lot of fish. This is something that not many omega-3 articles brush on. They just shout out “Eat fish!” without informing people that the consumption of predatory fish can be unhealthy, as not every fish at the fishmonger’s is checked for toxicity; they’re only assumed to be full of omega-3s.
Fish is still good for you in moderation, but actually taking an omega-3 supplement is a much wiser move over the long haul.
The Benefits of Omega-3
One of the most immediate benefits of omega-3 is that is acts as an anti-inflammatory. For individuals dealing with joint pain and discomfort, fish oil can help to reduce the pain and inflammation. Any inflammatory condition, from ulcers to infections, can be helped with fish oil.
The “reasons” why fish oil can help you lose weight are still up for debate in some circles. Some claim that it is the eating of fish itself that helps. But that doesn’t explain the supplement. Others cite enzyme-boosting properties. But the more accepted consensus seems to be that omega-3 prevents—to an extent, of course—the formation of new fat (storage) cells in your body.
Fish oils can keep the skin hydrated and looking great, working on everything from wrinkles and blotchiness to acne.
4: Tumor Growth
Omega-3 is said to slow and even halt the growth of tumors, namely breast cancer tumors. Fish oil’s properties also help individuals to stave off other types of cancer, such as prostate and colon cancer.
5: Digestive Aid
Fish oil is thought to help individuals suffering from diseases like Crohn’s and colitis, and it also helps with everyday digestive problems.
6: Heart Health
This is probably the most noted benefit of them all. Fish oil can help individuals lower their cholesterol and triglyceride levels, thus helping to prevent cardiovascular disease and keeping blockages away from your arteries.
By aiding in the transmission of serotonin throughout the body, fish oil can aid in relieving the symptoms of depression, bi-polar disorder, and other disorders tied to serotonin levels.
8: Brain Help
Because fish oil helps to improve brain function, it may help to prevent brain diseases associated with old age, like dementia and Alzheimer’s. To that end, pregnant mothers can also help improve their babies’ brain function by ingesting fish oil. Omega-3 also helps to improve focus and concentration.
The best part about ingesting fish oil is that there seem to be little to no side effects whatsoever. So even if taking the supplement doesn’t magically cure you of pain, it is still a very healthy fatty acid to take that has been scientifically proven to improve cardiovascular health, and it is relatively harmless.
When shopping for omega-3 supplements, just be sure that you are purchasing a good, reputable brand. You do not want a bunch of filler; look for all-natural supplements without any add-in ingredients.