It’s no secret that fish oil is linked to so many health benefits. Rich in omega-3 fats, the miracle oil is credited with everything from pain relief to boosting brain power.
But most of us aren’t getting nearly enough. Here’s the lowdown on why adding fish oil to your diet will significantly improve your quality of life.
There are two main types of omega-3 found in fish oil: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These omega-3 fats are thought to have a vast range of health benefits.
One of its many benefits is its anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have found that omega-3 fats may help to reduce inflammation in the joints and improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It’s also been found to be beneficial in the treatment of many other inflammatory conditions including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and Hashimoto’s disease.
“Fish oil is a natural alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), without the side effects but with the potential to reduce the inflammatory response and thereby reduces joint stiffness and pain,” nutritionist and Melrose ambassador Steph Lowe tells Starts at 60.
Studies have also found that omega-3 fatty acids can lower blood pressure. How? The omega-3 found in fish oil helps reduce inflammation throughout the body — inflammation that could otherwise damage your blood vessels and lead to heart disease and stroke.
In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, fish oil is also important for brain and skin health, and has been associated with a reduced risk of depression and anxiety, according to Lowe. It’s also good for eye health. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found eating fish and other foods high in omega-3 fats is associated with a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Since our bodies don’t produce omega-3 fats naturally, it’s important to make sure our diet contains plenty of it. To reduce the risk of heart disease, the Heart Foundation recommends eating two to three 150g serves of oily fish every week. Further, the Australia National Health and Medical Research Council suggest a daily intake of 610mg per day for men and 430mg per day for women. If you suffer from joint pain or mild arthritis, Lowe recommends a daily intake of 2.7g.
Fatty fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids include tuna, anchovies, salmon and mackerel. If you don’t eat a lot of oily fish, you might benefit from a fish oil supplement. And while canned tuna or salmon can be a more cost-effective solution, Lowe reckons it doesn’t have the same nutritionist value as fresh fish and that fish oil supplements are the best option.
“As a nutritionist, my preference is always food, but one of the biggest challenges we face at the moment is that most of our oily fish is farmed and grain-fed,” she said, explaining that majority of fresh fish contain higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat that has been linked to inflammation.