Friday, August 14, 2015

Fishing For Health

            My dad recently told me he used to consume a fish oil supplement when he was younger because it allegedly was “good” for you. Granted, he said it was among one of the worst things he has ever eaten (fishy flavor isn’t for everyone), but it made me wonder what all the benefits of consuming fish oil and fish oil supplements are. Fish oils are derived from a variety of fatty fish such as salmon, trout, herring, tuna, and sardines. These fish are rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are omega-3 fatty acids.

            Well, it turns out my dad was right, fish oils are chocked full of health benefits: cognition and memory, protection from vision loss, and potentially decreased risk of prostate cancer. Athletes also may consume fish oils supplements derived from cold-water fish for joint health because EPA and DHA contain anti-inflammatory chemicals called resolvins. Fish oils are also very important for fetal brain development, as you may see EPA and DHA in fortified baby formulas.

            The research goes back and forth, but putting controversy aside, in order to get the most benefit from fish oils, you need to aim to eat about two servings of fish per week. The fatty fish listed above have higher levels of EPA and DHA, but white fish, such as halibut, cod and tilapia, also have these fish oils in lower amounts. As always, fish oils are more readily absorbed from food rather than pills, so try putting a 3-ounce portion of fish on your plate for diner a few times a week!

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