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Everyone knows a healthy diet is important. Diet and weight loss gurus have made us believe that a low fat, high protein diet is the key to being fit, but in reality, a balanced diet must include some form of fat.
Your body needs fat! The best kinds of fats are omega-3 fatty acids. While the body doesn’t have the mechanism to digest these fats, they are very important for maintaining regular metabolism.
A lot of marine life and plants are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, bluefish, anchovy, sardines, trout, and mackerel. According to the National Institute of Health, you can get one gram fatty acids from 3.5-ounces of fish.
Fish oil supplements are a great way to add much needed fatty acids to your diet, especially for people who don’t eat or don’t like fish. Fish oil supplements are usually made from tuna, salmon, mackerel, cod liver, seal blubber, or whale blubber. Most fish oil supplements also contain a small amount of Vitamin E and are sometimes also combined with other vitamins and minerals.
Why you need omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, in combination with inflammatory agents that are present in the body, improve immunity by speeding up the healing process in damaged or infected tissues.
In fact, the human body converts omega-3 fatty acids into several enzymes that are very important for maintaining an optimal metabolic rate. In the simplest of terms, the metabolic rate can be defined as the rate at which the body breaks down or metabolizes food. An optimal or high metabolic rate is required for losing weight.
Other omega-3 fatty acid derivates are also responsible for reducing the risk of asthma, arthritis, stroke, and other immune deficiencies such as Alzheimer’s.
The National Institute of Health also reports that fish oil is used for post-surgery healing in the case of heart transplant surgery to prevent high blood pressure and kidney damage. It’s also used during bypass surgery.
Doctors also recommend fish oil supplements for high blood pressure patients to reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke.
Fish oil supplements are also known to be beneficial in the case of painful periods or pregnancy related complications, such as high blood pressure during pregnancy or the risk of premature birth.
What are the uses of omega-3 fatty acids?
While omega-3 fatty acids have numerous health benefits, let’s discuss three of the most common uses –
Cancer: Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, or taking supplements in the form of fish oil, seem to greatly reduce the risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer. These results have been found through a number of clinical trials and studies.
Eskimos eat a very high fat diet, but most of the fat comes from fish. Studies have shown that they have a very low risk of colon cancer. Some studies have also suggested that fish oil supplements may prevent colon cancer from progressing.
Menstrual pain: A clinical study found that taking fish oil supplements reduced menstrual pain and menstrual cramps when taken regularly. Women who took fish oil supplements reported significantly lower pain than women who were given a placebo.
ADHD: In a clinical study of over 100 boys, it was found that children with severe behavioral and learning problems had a lower percentage of omega-3 fatty acids compared to children with normal omega-3 fatty acid levels.
How to choose a fish oil supplement that’s best for you
ALA, EPA, and DHA: There are 3 main forms of omega-3’s – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). When buying a fish oil supplement, you want to make sure it has EPA and DHA. A pure fish oil supplement will always include these two.
ALA is mostly found in plant based supplements like flax seeds and walnuts.
Your diet is important: Before buying a fish oil supplement, you must always take your current diet into account. Fish oil is best taken as part of a healthy, balanced diet. This doesn’t mean you can eat burgers and fries throughout the day and then take a fish oil supplement in the hopes that it will make you healthy.
Know if the supplement is good: Always check the purity of your supplements. Buy them from reliable sources, not websites that are selling snake oil.
Do not consume more than 3 grams of the supplement. A lot of people are also concerned about the presence of mercury in supplements since most fish have these deposits. Companies that make fish oil supplements follow stringent checks to remove all traces of mercury.
Algae and plant supplements: Algae and plant/nut supplements contain ALA, not EPA or DHA. EPA and DHA are especially important to reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
If you are concerned about “fish burp” after taking a supplement, keep your pills in the fridge.
Fish oil supplements are a great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle and they protect you from many diseases. It’s not possible to keep a check on everything we eat, but it’s definitely possible to add a healthy supplement to our diet that makes our lives better.
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