Getting to Know: Fish OilPosted by Howard County Library System on Aug 22, 2011 in Eating Right | 6 comments
by Matthew Hall
Fish oil is a supplement that has been gaining popularity in recent years and is known to have a vast amount of health benefits. Unfortunately, until fairly recently there were few options to choose from, and almost all of them had a trademark fishy smell and taste.
I personally hate eating fish. I eat it anyway (oh the things we do to be healthy), but I refuse to drink a shot of fish juice first thing in the morning. So instead, I have been exploring all of the wonderful flavored varieties of this great supplement. They range from chewable gummies (the ones my children take) to pills and flavored liquid versions. In terms of benefits, there are more than a few studies available that show how numerous systems in the body can be aided by supplementation with fish oil.
The compound within fish oil that is so highly thought of is omega-3 (fatty acids). I mentioned that my children take an omega-3 supplement (which is basically candy for breakfast in their eyes), and we give it to them because it helps to support proper brain function. My wife began taking these supplements when she was pregnant with our kids, mainly because of the DHA, which is one of the three fatty acids and helps with brain development during pregnancy. Of course, the same brain health benefits are available for adults as well.
Heart health is another benefit of taking a fish oil supplement. Supplementation can lower LDL cholesterol levels–otherwise known as “bad cholesterol,” lower triglyceride levels, and to raise HDL levels–the “good cholesterol.” By balancing all of these levels, you can lower your risk for heart disease and quite possibly various forms of cancer.
Fish oil also helps with inflammation, so anyone suffering arthritis or joint soreness may see some of their pain eased by supplementing with fish oil. This benefit is one of the reasons many exercise fanatics have added fish oil to their supplement regimen, because it will help reduce muscle soreness after an intense workout.
That being said, some may be unsure as to why they aren’t getting enough omega-3 from their diet already. One of the main reasons is because most people do not eat a lot of fish, which is the best food source available for the highest levels of omega-3 per serving (hence why they extract oils from fish for supplements). People also tend to snack on nutrient-devoid items like chips and other processed foods, as opposed to nuts, which are an excellent source of omega-3. Also, now that the majority of beef being sold is grain fed and not grass fed, the omega balance in beef has been thrown off to contain more omega-6 and far less omega-3.
The benefits are numerous, and now that there are tasty alternatives to the unflavored oils, everyone should look into supplementing their diet with fish oil. Your body will thank you!