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Fish oil is rich in essential fatty acids, or omega-3 fatty acids that are naturally found in fish such as salmon, herring, trout, and mackerel. The human body relies on external sources for its daily dose of omega-3, and even though the body cannot metabolize them, they have various important roles in maintaining biochemical processes.
There are two types of fatty acids the body requires – omega-3 and omega-6. While the body needs both these fatty acids to maintain proper function, a higher amount of omega-6 fatty acids can have disastrous effects. The problem is that the average American diet has twenty times more omega-6 than omega-3, resulting in more heart problems and other diseases.
How can fish oil supplements help? For starters, fish oil supplements have your daily recommended dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which you may not be getting from food. They should always be taken as a part of a healthy diet.
Quite obviously fish oil supplements will be futile if your daily diet includes deep fried foods, steak, and refined foods, as those and many other foods contain a good deal of omega-6 fats.
Here are just some of the health benefits associated with fish oil supplements:
Fish oil supplements are beneficial in a number of diseases but the strongest evidence exists for heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends a diet low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundantly found in fish oil supplements.
Multiple clinical studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids, particularly those found in fish, reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure – problems that affect a large part of the population.
Fish oil reduces the level of “bad” cholesterol, slows plaque buildup around arteries, and reduces blood clots.
The daily recommended dosage of fish oil supplements is not more than 3 grams/day. If you’re taking fish oil supplements in conjunction with eating fish like salmon, herring, and anchovies regularly, you may reduce your supplement intake to one gram/day.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure is associated with heart disease, but it may or may not be a contributing factor. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can be reduced to an optimum level by taking fish oil supplements.
Data in over 15 clinical studies has shown that fish oil supplements or a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps lower blood pressure. Typically, high blood pressure patients are recommended a high dose of fish oil supplements, but doses above 3 gram/day can significantly increase the risk of brain hemorrhage. Consult with your physician before taking such a high dose to treat high blood pressure.
Several studies have shown that people in the Mediterranean and Intuit Eskimos who have a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids have increased HDL cholesterol, also known as “good cholesterol”. HDL cholesterol fights against unhealthy triglycerides to remove “bad cholesterol” from the body.
Taking fish oil supplements can help lower cholesterol levels significantly. They also help in boosting HDL cholesterol which is essential for maintaining heart health.
Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis
Fish oil supplements when taken in conjunction with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help in alleviating joint pain in the case of rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have shown that while joint degeneration continues to occur, patients find relief from pain when fish oil supplements are taken regularly.
Patients with irritable bowel syndrome have also found relief with fish oil supplements. Some studies also suggest that fish oil supplements may be useful in reducing menstrual pain.
Diabetes patients often have high levels of “bad cholesterol” in their body. Fish oil supplements provide them with a healthy boost of HDL (the “good cholesterol”) which may reduce blood sugar levels.
It’s very important that diabetes patients take omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil supplements since plant based omega-3 fatty acids do not lower blood sugar and may be useless in this case.
Macular degeneration is an age related eye condition that can cause permanent blindness if not treated. A clinical study involving more than 3000 people found that macular degeneration was lower in people who ate a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Multiple studies have suggested that fish oil supplements can help lower the risk of certain types of cancer. When taken by cancer patients, fish oil supplements can prevent the disease from progressing.
Fish oil supplements are particularly useful in preventing the risk of prostate and breast cancer, and can prevent colon cancer from progressing.
We have touched the tip of the iceberg with these benefits. Fish oil supplements have many, many more health benefits and can also be used to treat depression, ADHD, skin disorders, and cognitive decline.
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