New, trendy supplements are constantly popping up on the market. However, one supplement that is here to stay is fish oil. With research to back its benefits, fish oil has proven its value for overall health and well-being.
Fish oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. The main omega-3 fatty acids present are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are significant because compared to the omega-3 fatty acids commonly present in plant sources, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), EPA and DHA have greater health benefits. Fish oil also contains vitamin A and D, making it a great supplement to support health and fitness.
Due to the numerous health benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oil, eating 1–2 portions of fish, including 1 portion of fatty fish per week is recommended. However, if you don’t eat fish, or are unable to include the recommended servings of fish in your diet, supplements can be an excellent way to get omega-3 fatty acids.
5 Benefits of Fish Oil
Let’s take a look at some of the key health benefits.
1. Heart Health
It has been shown that people who have a diet that is rich in fish are less likely to have heart disease. Fish oil reduces the risk of heart disease by acting on multiple risk factors.
- Increases the levels of HDL in our blood, which is also known as good cholesterol and promotes heart health. However, it has not been reported to lower the levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol, which is linked to multiple heart diseases.
- Reported to lower levels of triglycerides by 15–30%.
- Even in small doses, it can help moderate blood pressure levels in people with hypertension or high blood pressure.
- Helps prevent plaques and stabilize arterial plaques, reducing health risks in those who already have them. Plaques are fat deposits in our arteries, which can reduce the flow of blood to the heart, leading to pain, shortness of breath, and even heart attacks.
- In people suffering from fatal arrhythmia or those at risk of developing it, fish oil can reduce its occurrence. Arrhythmias are characterized by an irregular heart rhythm, which can also lead to heart attacks.
Hence, it is apparent that fish oil can be extremely beneficial in maintaining a healthy heart and in preventing heart disease, especially in those who are at risk.
2. Weight Management
Another major health benefit of fish oil is its ability to improve body composition, assist in weight loss, and reduce the risk of heart disease in obese people. It has also been seen that when paired with diet or exercise, it can support weight loss. To top it off, a meta-analysis of multiple studies showed that fish oil could be beneficial in reducing abdominal fat, reducing the circumference of the waist, and the waist-to-hip ratio in the process.
3. Reduce Inflammation
The anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil can be effective at managing chronic inflammation and the various disorders associated with it. Chronic inflammation not only leads to fatigue, body pain, insomnia, and multiple other health conditions, it is also linked to multiple disorders like obesity, diabetes, depression, mood disorders, and heart disease. It has been observed that fish oil can reduce inflammation in obese individuals, as well as those who are struggling with stress and anxiety.
Furthermore, intake of fish oil can lead to a marked decrease in joint pain, stiffness, and the need for medication (NSAIDs) in people with rheumatoid arthritis and some other inflammatory conditions. Given the numerous ways chronic inflammation can debilitate our health and fitness levels, adding these supplements to our daily routine could be a great way to ensure good health.
4. Manage Liver Fat
Since our liver processes almost all the fat in our body, it plays a vital role in weight management. With poor lifestyle and eating habits, the incidence of liver disease increases, especially non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Research has shown that fish oil supplements can enhance liver function and reduce inflammation, which could assist in reducing the symptoms of NAFLD, as well as the levels of fat deposition in our liver. Since a healthy liver is crucial to good health, it is safe to say that fish oil supplements prove to be a great addition to our diet.
5. Mental Health
Since our brain consists of as much as 60% fat, a majority of which is omega-3 fatty acids, they are crucial for healthy brain function. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help prevent and manage various brain disorders. People with certain mental disorders seem to exhibit reduced levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood.
Moreover, it has been seen that supplementing with fish oil can prevent mental disorders and improve symptoms. For instance, the use of supplements can decrease the possibility of developing psychotic disorders in those who are at risk. Also, high doses can help reduce certain symptoms of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Lastly, it has been seen that fish oil supplements can be helpful in improving the symptoms of depression. The benefits of supplementing with fish oil on our mental health, and thereby on our overall health, are undeniable.
The benefits of fish oil in maintaining overall health and fitness are not limited to those mentioned above either. So, find a way to include them in your daily diet, whether by consuming supplements or by adding fish to your next meal.