Our bodies cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to our survival – we cannot make cell membranes without these fats.
An Attempt to Debunk the Importance of Fish Oil
Recently, a study was published that attempted to invalidate years of research attesting to the health benefits of fish oil.
The scientific community at large – including Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital – were quick to point out that prior studies with results suggesting that “fish oil makes no difference to health” were small and generally short term.
Additionally, the focus was primarily on heart disease prevention.
• However, there was no attempt to contradict the World Health Organization’s (WHO) findings that negated the importance of the brain-building benefits of omega-3s for children and the critical need for pregnant women to increase their intake of fatty fish oils during pregnancy to protect against birth defects and increase the intelligence of their babies.
It’s estimated that consumption of fatty fish has doubled since the 1960s and this increase could account for the less than stellar results – there is not much benefit of adding omega-3s to a diet that is already abundant in omega-3 rich foods.
In order to truly gauge the effectiveness of omega-3 for heart health, participants would ideally be omega-3 deficient – lacking the healthy nutrition habits that would provide enough of the fatty acid to their diets.
The heart study is making waves across the medical and supplement communities. So let’s take heart health out of the mix. Here are just a few of the proven benefits found in omega-3s.
Omega-3 Protects and Treats
• In healthy adults, omega-3s have been shown to improve overall focus, detail recall, reasoning skills and memory. Omega-3s also help protect your central nervous system against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.
• Eases the symptoms of osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis by blocking inflammation and lubricating joints.
• Has been used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder and depression. Researchers from the psychiatry department at the University of Sheffield found that omega-3s alleviate many symptoms of mental disorders and improve the quality of life for those children and adults suffering from dyslexia and compulsive disorders.
• Is showing enormous potential in the treatment of skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis by soothing inflammation that can lead to dryness and balancing the natural oils in the skin.
• Stops inflammation that can lead to chronic pain, diabetes, obesity, migraines and cancer. In fact, omega-3s have been linked to the prevention of breast, colon and prostate cancers by preventing cell mutation in the first place, halting mutated cells’ ability to multiply, and finally by stimulating apoptosis – cell suicide – in existing cancer cells.
Omega-3 foods are susceptible to heat, light and oxygen. The older they are – the less nutritional value they provide.
Flaxseeds and walnuts are treats that are high in omega-3 for heart health. Their shells protect against oxidation, but when their shells are removed for process into oils and supplements, the flaxseeds and walnuts are vulnerable to oxidation.
The best way to eat fish to get the maximum concentration of omega-3’s is to bake or broil as opposed to frying, a process that reduces the overall health benefit.
Simple Foods That Will Increase Your Intake of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
• Fatty fish ( wild salmon, tuna, sardines, scallops and shrimp)
• Grass-fed beef
• Spinach, collard greens and kale
• Winter squash
Flaxseeds, walnuts and salmon provide the highest concentration of omega-3s, but the other foods are still good sources to include in your regular diet.
Simply adding two omega-3 foods – such as flaxseeds and salmon – twice a week has been shown to improve omega-3 for heart health and in your blood.
Yes- still excellent for heart health!
Researchers at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom found that omega-3 for heart health is so vital. Their research focused on improving the flexibility of blood vessel walls.
Women responded twice as well to omega-3s – showing a measurable improvement in blood vessel flexibility that was four times that of people who do not include omega-3s in their diet. In fact, omega-3s performed as well – and in some cases better – than pharmaceutical drugs prescribed to improve vessel elasticity.
Christine Williams, professor of nutrition and study leader, explained, “This is an exciting discovery which gives us a new way of looking at how our diet affects the health of our blood vessels, and possibly more effective ways of improving heart health in the future.”
Omega-3s block the body’s inflammation response, reduce fat in the blood, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, improve blood flow and increase the chances of survival during and after a heart attack or stroke.
The American Heart Association remains firm in its recommendation for a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids to prevent and treat heart disease.
A New Fish Oil to Consider
Thriving in every ocean are small red crustaceans called Krill. They resemble small shrimp and are part of the Euphausiacea order. They are the most abundant biological animal on the planet. Experts estimate there are approximately 500 million tons of krill inhabiting the ocean floor worldwide – that is more than twice the mass of human beings.
Asian culture has used krill for hundreds of years both as a food source and medicine. Krill are primarily harvested as bait and food for aquarium fish. Recent studies are weighing the benefits of krill oil against the more commonly used fish oil.
Though it will be years before it will be as readily available – at a reasonable cost – as traditional fish oil, the initial results are excellent.