“Let’s dive into the stunning health benefits of fish oil”
Anyone who has ever tried to come up with a healthy diet knows how tedious the task is. You have to research a lot and find out about the nutrition present in different foods. And you have to go through your kitchen and bin away all the unhealthy stuff. These steps may seem simple, but doing this for every single item in your fridge takes up a lot of time.
This isn’t even the worst part, though! Motivating yourself consistently and fighting off your cravings is the real challenge with healthy diets.
It’s hard, we know. And that’s exactly why we’re here. We will help you stick to your diet by making this process a bit easier for you. How? Well, enduring unpleasant things becomes easier when you know what you’re getting out of it. So, we’re going to tell you exactly what you’ll gain from eating healthy foods instead of eating what tastes good.
Specifically, in today’s article, we’re going to talk about the benefits of fish oil- a staple ingredient in healthy diets. We have 14 different benefits of fish oil to tell you about. Don’t worry- these won’t be hollow statements. We’ll use scientific evidence to support our claims. So, strap in and let us give you some reasons to push through your diet a bit longer.
What is fish oil?
Before discussing the benefits, though, let’s start by understanding what fish oil is and what nutrients it contains. Fish oil is a type of oil extracted from the fatty tissues of fish like herring, tunas, anchovies, and more. The oil is incredibly popular among fitness enthusiasts because it is rich in omega-3s and other essential vitamins.
30% of fish oil is made of omega-3s. And 70% of it is made of other important vitamins like A and D. What’s the big deal about omega-3s? Well, Omega-3s bring numerous benefits to the human body. A few of these include:
- Improved eye health
- Lowered risk of heart disease
- Reduced symptoms of chronic inflammation and much more.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends eating about 1 or 2 portions of fish every week. That’s because they’re great sources of omega-3s. But you can take fish oil supplements to meet this requirement as well.
In fish oil, you’ll find three kinds of omega-3s. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Although, the last one is mainly found in plant-sourced fish oil.
14 benefits of fish oil for your health
Now that we know what fish oil is let’s talk about the reasons why you should incorporate it into your diet. Here are 14 science-backed benefits of fish oil:
Fish oil protects you from heart diseases
Heart diseases are among the main causes of death throughout the world. And with more and more fast-food options available nowadays, the situation only seems to be getting worse. Luckily, adding fish oil to your diet can help you keep your heart healthier.
Multiple studies have shown how eating fish helps reduce a multitude of risk factors for heart diseases.
Some concrete benefits include:
Proper regulation of cholesterol levels
Our bodies have both good and bad cholesterol. Adding fish oil to your diet improves your HDL levels (good cholesterol) and reduces your LDL levels (bad cholesterol).
Lowers triglyceride levels
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in our bodies. It is how our bodies store the excess calories we consume. High levels of triglyceride can increase the risk of heart disease. Adding fish oil to your diet reduces triglyceride levels by 15- 30%. And this mitigates the risk of heart disease.
Helps reduce blood pressure
High blood pressure can increase the risk of a heart attack. Consuming fish oil at recommended levels helps you reduce blood pressure and bring it down to safe levels.
Prevents plaques from forming
Plaques can cause arteries to harden up increasing the chances of heart attacks. Fish oil prevents this from happening and makes arterial plaques stabler for improved heart health.
Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil fight depression and anxiety.
Depression and anxiety are the most common mental disorders throughout the world. Their symptoms include sadness, social withdrawal, loss of motivation, nervousness, constant worry, and more.
Various studies indicate that people who take high levels of omega-3s in their diets are less likely to be depressed. In fact, many people even take omega-3 supplements to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Among the three types of omega-3s found in fish oil (EPA, ALA, and DHA), EPA is the most effective at this. In fact, studies show that EPA is equally effective in fighting the symptoms of depression as anti-depressants.
We’re not suggesting that you should use fish oil as the sole treatment for depression. We’re only saying that adding it to your diet will help improve your overall mental health.
Fish oil improves eye health
Data shows that people who have low omega-3s levels have a greater-than-usual risk of developing eye diseases. So, taking in enough omega-3s through fish oil is a great way to protect your eyes.
Additionally, your eyes benefit a lot from the omega-3 fats present in fish oil. In old age, our eyes start weakening due to age-related muscular degeneration (AMD). Eating fish (or fish oil supplements) has been shown to help slow this process down.
Particularly, the omega-3s in fish oil slow down the AMD process. A study conducted in 2013 examined the effectiveness of omega-3s and other nutrients on AMD and found a positive effect.
Reduces symptoms of chronic inflammation
Chronic inflammation refers to long-lasting inflammation that occurs without the presence of any outside danger. It is associated with risky health conditions like diabetes, depression, heart disease, and obesity.
Fish oil is anti-inflammatory. This means that it will help tone down the inflammatory symptoms of all of these diseases. And it will help you fight any type of chronic inflammation in your body.
The evidence for this is backed by two studies- one studied stress-caused inflammation, and one studied weight-caused inflammation. In both cases, fish oil reduced the gene expression of inflammatory cells in the body.
Your skin gets healthier
If you’re into skincare and want to improve the quality of your skin naturally, fish oil can help. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and it relies heavily on omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil is a great source for this- it will help maintain your skin’s natural look.
This is especially true for older people. Sun exposure and old age can deteriorate your skin fast. The nutrients present in fish oil shield your skin against this and slow down the aging process. So, incorporating this natural solution into your skincare routine can really help improve your skin’s overall health.
Additionally, fish oil has been proven to be effective against many skin disorders- including dermatitis and psoriasis.
Fish oil helps improve fetal brain development
As we’ve mentioned earlier, fish oil is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. And they help with fetal brain growth and development greatly.
DHA makes up 40% of your brain’s polyunsaturated fatty acids and 60% of your eyes’ retinas. This is why infant formulas are so rich in DHA. And this is also why infants fed DHA-rich diets tend to have better eyesight than infants who are not.
Other benefits of getting high levels of omega-3s during pregnancy for your child include:
- Better social skills
- Better communication
- Higher intelligence
- Lowered risk of ADHD and autism
Fish oil reduces liver fat
Livers accumulate the most fat in your body. If this level rises to extremes, you risk developing NAFLD (or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease) – a disease where fat rapidly starts accumulating in your liver.
This is where fish oil steps in. Its anti-inflammatory properties prevent your liver from swelling up. And the other nutrients present in this oil help reduce the symptoms of NAFLD in your body. Meaning that fish oil is great for weight loss as well.
Fish oil improves attention and hyperactivity in children
Neurodevelopmental conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) result in inattention and hyperactivity.
Omega-3s play a huge part in the makeup of our brains. So, taking healthy levels of omega-3s through fish oil early on in life can help prevent these conditions from developing.
Research has also shown that fish oil supplements contain nutrients that lower hyperactivity, impulsiveness, inattention, and aggression in children. So, all parents should consider adding fish oil to their children’s diets.
Fish oil keeps your mental soundness intact
Our brain function decreases as we age. We start thinking slowly, forget more, and become prone to many old-age mental conditions and diseases like Alzheimer’s.
While you can’t stop yourself from aging; you can do a lot to slow down its effects. The nutrients in fish oil help a lot with this. Various studies have shown that the nutritional benefits of fish oil have helped people keep their brains healthier.
So, if you want to keep your brain healthy and preserve your cognitive abilities, add fish oil to your diet.
Omega-3s in fish oil help reduce metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome refers to many conditions, but the most commonly known condition causes central obesity (belly fat). This directly results in high blood pressure, resistance to insulin, high levels of triglycerides, and low levels of good cholesterol (HDL).
This can especially be dangerous for people who have preexisting heart conditions since they’re already at risk for heart attacks.
Again! Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil improve your body’s health significantly. It lowers insulin resistance, inflammation, and fat accumulation lowering risk factors for people who have metabolic syndrome.
Fish oil helps fight autoimmune diseases
Autoimmune diseases cause your body to misidentify healthy cells as harmful cells and start killing them. One example of this is Type 1 diabetes- where your immune system starts attacking the insulin-producing cells in your body.
Once again, Omega-3 fatty acids come to the rescue here. Numerous studies show that getting good levels of omega-3s in the first year of your life protects you from autoimmune diseases. Examples of such diseases include 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Other conditions and diseases that omega-3s are known to treat are ulcerative colitis, lupus, and psoriasis.
It shields you against allergies and improves asthma symptoms
Asthma symptoms include swelling in the lungs and difficulty breathing. With more pollutants in our environment than ever before, this condition is progressively developing among infants (and people generally).
A lot of scientific research shows that the nutrients present in fish oil may reduce the symptoms of asthma. Further, the earlier you incorporate this into your diet, the better protection you get from conditions like these.
Also, When pregnant women stably consume fish oil, they drastically reduce the risk of their child developing allergies as well.
Improves bone health
Your bones weaken with age because they start losing their essential minerals. This makes them more likely to break or crack during strong impacts and can even lead to conditions like osteoarthritis.
Calcium, Vitamin D, and Omega-3 fatty acids are some of the most important ingredients that improve bone health. Particularly, Omega-3s will help improve your bone density, helping them maintain their strength.
So, if you want to keep your bones healthy as you age, start using fish oil with your food regularly.
14. Helps prevent cancer
We are yet to find a definitive cure for cancer. But there is a lot you can do -even today- to reduce the chances of getting cancer. Numerous studies have looked at a range of factors that increase or decrease the likelihood of people getting cancer. Many of them show that people with good omega-3s have a 55% lower risk of getting cancer.
This relationship is even stronger when we talk about breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.
Potential side-effects of using fish oil
Now, let’s consider some conditions why fish oil may not be the right dietary choice for you. It’s not that fish oil contains inherent harm, but certain conditions can make it risky or harmful for you.
Here’s when you should avoid fish oil and why:
You should avoid shark fish oil during pregnancy.
Fish oil can contribute a lot to a fetus’ healthy development if it is taken during pregnancy. However, certain types of fish oil come with a few risks for the fetus. So, you need to avoid consuming these types of fish oil during pregnancy.
These types include fish oil that comes from sharks, tilefish, swordfish, and king mackerel. Why should you avoid them? Because there is a risk that fish oil from these sources will have traces of mercury and other toxins in it. This will obviously be harmful to a developing baby, so you should shift to taking fish oil supplements instead.
You should avoid fish oil when your immune system is weak.
Some research has suggested that consuming excessive levels of fish oil can weaken the immune system. This can pose problems for those whose immune system is already weak and sensitive, i.e., HIV and AIDS patients. It is best for such individuals to steer clear of fish oil altogether and to opt for safer alternatives.
In conclusion, fish oil is super-healthy and a great source of some essential vitamins and omega-3s. This makes it a great ingredient to add to your workout diet. And it is what enables fish oil to protect your body against diseases and improve your overall health.
While the oil itself isn’t harmful at all, people with certain conditions are advised to avoid it. Otherwise, they would put their health at risk.