Keto, paleo, vegan, raw food. The list of diet fads is endless. In nutrition, there are many ways to approach how we fuel our bodies.
One area that has recently gained a lot of attention is the role of fats in our diets. In particular, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to have several benefits for human health and disease prevention when consumed as part of a balanced diet.
Fish oil is one of the most significant ways to include these necessary fatty acids in your diet. However, as with any food or beverage choice, the pros and cons depend on your personal goals and needs. Whether you're a guy or a woman, here is everything you need to know about fish oil and its advantages as a component of a balanced diet:
What is Fish Oil?
Fish oil is a form of omega-3 fatty acid extracted from fish tissues. There are two main types of omega-3 fatty acids: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
In plants, EPA and DHA are primarily found in fish oils and smaller amounts of other omega-3 fatty acids, such as ALA (α-linolenic acid). EPA and DHA are known as the "marine" omega-3s because they are primarily found in fish oil, while ALA is the "plant" omega-3 because it is found predominantly in plant oils (such as flax seed, walnuts, and soybeans). While EPA and DHA have been studied for their potential health benefits, there is still much to learn about ALA.
Why is fish oil beneficial?
There have been numerous studies showing fish oil's potential health benefits. These include lowering the risk of heart and cardiovascular disease, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the risk of blood clots. Regularly consuming fish oil is also associated with a reduction in depression and anxiety and improved brain health.
There are a few reasons why fish oil could have these positive health benefits. Firstly, it helps to reduce the number of triglycerides (fatty acids) in your bloodstream - which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
Fish oil also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to lower blood pressure and reduce the likelihood of a blood clot. In addition, fish oil has been shown to increase the amount of Omega-3 in the brain, improving brain function and reducing the risk of cognitive decline.
Are there any drawbacks to taking fish oil?
There are no known "side effects" of consuming fish oil in pure form without any additives. When consuming fish oil, there are a few things to think about.
First, fish oil has a strong taste and smell, so if you're not a fan of fish, you should take an alternative source of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil may also increase the mercury in your body, a toxin that can cause serious adverse effects.
While mercury is a naturally occurring substance found in many types of fish, it can cause serious health problems if consumed in high amounts. Fish oil is considered a "high source" of mercury because the fish used to produce it contains a great deal of mercury in their tissues.
Your health requirements and goals will determine how much fish oil you should consume. That being said, the recommended daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids is around 2-3 grams daily. If you have pre-existing health conditions or are taking medication, you should speak to a doctor before increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
It's important to note that many different fish oil supplements exist. Some contain more EPA and DHA than others, so you should look into this when shopping for a complement.
An easy way to get more fish oil in your diet
Fish oil isn't the only way to get your daily dose of essential fatty acids - you can also get them from nuts, seeds, and other plant-based foods. The trick is to be mindful of the types of nuts and seeds you're eating.
In general, nuts and seeds that are raw and unsalted are a great source of essential fatty acids. Some examples include chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
Another easy way to get more essential fatty acids in your diet is through the foods you eat. If you regularly eat fish, you are likely consuming enough essential fatty acids in your diet.
Many other foods contain essential fatty acids that you might not think are a good source. Examples include avocado, broccoli, leafy greens, and some grains like oats.
Fish oil is an excellent source of essential fatty acids, which can benefit your health. While there are no known drawbacks to taking fish oil, you should be mindful of your personal needs and goals before adding it to your diet.
That being said, fish oil can be consumed through the foods you already eat, so there's no need to take a supplement if you don't want to. Fish oil is a great way to get your daily dose of essential fatty acids and improve your overall health and well-being.