This run-down of the benefits of fish oil will send you straight to the fish market!
Oh, fish oil, what can’t you do?
Since the old days when people took a teaspoon of cod liver oil, to today where supplements reign supreme, people have long known about the super powers of fish oil.
The fact is…fish oil is really good for you! And it’s so readily available that there’s no excuse not to build it into your routine.
From inflammation to heart disease, anxiety to osteoporosis…fish oil’s special ingredients deliver a powerful boost to your immune system.
But unfortunately, there’s a bit of bunk out there about fish oil. It’s true that it can be used for a host of illnesses, and is great at preventing disease. But it’s not a magic pill. Nor does it do some of the bad things you might have heard from your friends. We’ll separate fact from fiction below.
You’re probably wondering…
What Makes Fish Oil So Special?
The secret lies deep in the omega-3 fatty acids present inside fish oil.
We have to get a little technical here. The key fatty acids in fish oil are called Docosahexaenoic acid and Eicosapentaenoic acid. (Say that three times fast.) Let’s just agree to call them “DHA” and “EPA” from here on out. These are the essential omega-3 fats present in fish oil, and they’re the main reason why fish is a critical part of a healthy diet.
Think about it…ever wonder why the Japanese – whose diet is super-rich in fist – have an average life expectancy of 84 years? That’s a whopping five years more than the average American!
So what is it about fatty acids like DHA and EPA that make them so awesome?
For one, they’ve been shown to boost your immune system. We’ll talk later about how they react with the powerhouse cells that keep your immune system sharp and healthy.
But here’s the crazy thing about omega-3 fatty acids: Unlike other healthy fats, the body is totally incapable of making omega-3 fatty acids on its own. So unless you’re bringing in the good stuff through your diet or a supplement, you’re missing out on a potentially life-saving piece of your diet.
Where can you get omega-3 fats?
The simple answer is fish. You can eat lots and lots of fish. Certain breeds like salmon, mackerel, halibut and herring all have a rich storage of omega-3s. Eating fish a few times a week can be a game-changer for your long-term health (see our benefits below).
But we know that eating lots of fish isn’t always practical.
- It’s expensive.
- If you eat too much of certain kinds of fish, you’re leaving yourself exposed to mercury poisoning.
You can get around this, because there are some plants that are rich in omega-3s. Flaxseeds, chia seeds and even leafy green vegetables all have omega-3s. But to get the same amount of omega-3 fatty acids from plants as fish, you’d have to eat a heck of a lot of the plants. That might not be in the cards, either.
Luckily, fish oil providers have developed fish oil supplements that capture all the good omega-3 fatty acids from fish, without the high price tag or mercury risk. (If you pick the right brands, that is.) These convenient, easy to digest pills are without a doubt the easiest way to capitalize on the great benefits of fish oil.
Now that you’ve been through a crash course in omega-3s and fish oil, let’s talk about all the first-class benefits you’ll get from adding it to your diet.
8 Unexpected Benefits of Fish Oil
Let’s talk about all the interesting, wonderful things that fish oil can do for you and your health.
Fresh Start to a Healthy Heart
Fish oil has been shown in several studies to reduce the risk of heart disease. The omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oil were shown to decrease risk of coronary artery disease and heart failure in adults. It’s even been shown to reverse some types of heart disease.
What’s at the center of this?
For one, researchers have observed that fish oil lowers triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are the primary form of fat in your body, and too many of them means you’re at an elevated risk for heart disease. And the worst part is? You can be completely oblivious to high triglyceride levels in your blood unless you get a lab test taken.
Incorporate fish oil into your diet, and you’ll lower your risk for heart disease. It’s as simple as that.
Recently there’ve been a few conflicting studies on the benefits of fish oil to your cardiovascular system. This has put into question some of the benefits that have been observed for years. But the evidence is overwhelming – time after time groups with higher levels of omega-3s in their diet have been shown to outperform placebo groups in double-blind studies.
Fight Back With a Strong Immune System
Omega-3 fatty acid with DHA has shown to power up the B cell, a white blood cell central to our immune systems.
But do you want to know how to really level-up the benefits you get from the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil? Combine it with astaxanthin, a natural and powerful antioxidant.
Since astaxanthin is an antioxidant, it shields your body from the oxidizing and damaging effects of free radicals. This works together with the omega-3 fatty acids to give you a powerful immune system, protecting you from disease from the common cold to a nasty flu.
Here’s the great news. Astaxanthin already comes naturally combined with omega-3 fatty acids in fish like salmon. So if you incorporate some of this awesome fish into your diet, you’re already good to go.
But for those who don’t or can’t eat salmon, here’s an obvious solution…
Find a supplement that already has astaxanthin included. Many brands exist, and we can help you narrow down your search. (LINK to product)
Ease That Inflammation
If there’s one thing you want to keep at bay, it’s inflammation. It causes pain and is at the root of a plethora of chronic diseases. Whether we’re talking rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes or even cancer, the key to long-lasting life and good health is effective management of inflammation.
You don’t necessarily want to treat inflammation with your average over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs. They don’t always treat the problem effectively, and can be responsible for increased risk of anxiety and depression.
You can skip all the potentially devastating side effects caused by inflammation. Studies show that fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties. What’s more, it’s got a positive impact on rheumatoid arthritis and can even prevent relapse of Crohn’s disease.
Take control of your inflammation, and you’ll be giving yourself a strong defense against chronic pain and disease. Take fish oil with you on your journey to good health.
Stuck On The Weight-Loss Merry-Go-Round?
Let’s talk about something a little crazy.
We’ve been taught over the years that fats are what make us fat. Remember the anti-fat craze from a few decades ago? We’re still feeling the hangover of it.
Food products everywhere were scared of consumers revolting against fats, so they went on campaigns to offer low-fat and even no-fat products. They were touted as healthier alternatives to the foods people were used to consuming.
Of course, they couldn’t have been more wrong.
First off, everyone knows that fats add flavor to food. So the food industry wanted to lower fats in their products, what did they do? They pumped their food full of sugar and salts to compensate for missing flavor.
In fact, you’ll often end up with food products that have just as many (or more) calories than their original “full-fat” options.
But we also know something more. Fats don’t make us fat. In fact, many types of fats are healthy for us. We’ve written about the amazing benefits of the healthy fats in avocado oil. [link to avocado oil article]
Here’s the great news. Fish oil is also chock-full of healthy fats, making them a great addition to your diet.
Not only that, researchers tested fish out to see its impact on resting metabolic rate. The better your metabolic rate, the better you burn unsightly fat.
The research showed participants that took fish oil built more lean mass and lost more fat over 12 weeks than the placebo group. In other words, fish oil clearly has a positive impact on body composition and resting metabolism.
So if you want to lean up and build muscle, it’s time to try fish oil supplements (LINK to product).
You Won’t Have Trouble “Seeing” This Benefit
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a devastating disease. It slowly robs our older generations of their eyesight, leaving many depressed and miserable. Right now there is no known cure for AMD.
The center of the retina (i.e. the macula) gives our vision its focus. Without it, we lose the ability to recognize faces, read, or appreciate the subtle differences in the things we see. AMD progressively blurs vision until it turns into late-stage AMD. Once you get to late-stage AMD, you’re at risk for total vision loss.
Fish oil is a well-known treatment for AMD. It’s been shown to lower the risk for early and late-stage macular degeneration. This means it helps prevent AMD in the first place, and also can slow the effects of AMD as it progresses.
Anxiety and stress can truly cripple your ability to enjoy life. People who suffer from high levels of anxiety often feel unsettled, worried, and always on edge. If you feel apprehensive all the time, and it’s stifling your ability to make decisions and enjoy life, then you may be struggling with anxiety.
Fish oil balances out your anxiety and stress levels. Omega-3s decreased anxiety levels in randomized, controlled studies. That’s good news for anyone that feels paralyzed with uncertainty and apprehension about the future.
It’s also true that cultures with high omega-3 fatty acid diets (i.e. where fish is regularly eaten) have lower rates of depression. However, research is still mixed on whether fish oil can effectively treat true clinical depression.
Don’t Forget Your Skin And Hair
Your skin is one of the body’s most important yet most neglected organ. We don’t always clean it right, or moisturize it when we need to…but one of the biggest crimes we commit against our skin is not giving it the vitamins it needs!
The biggest source of vitamin D is in the sun. So if you’re stuck in an office all day, or live in a cloudy area with not much natural sunlight, then you’re not getting the right dose of vitamin D you need to stay healthy.
Fish oil is replete with fat-soluble vitamins, which means they absorb nicely into the body. It’s got vitamin D, which gives skin a soft and silky texture. It’s also critical for fighting acne and psoriasis, so fish oil is a perfect solution for good skin health.
Fish Oil For Fertility?
For many couples, fertility issues are a nightmare. It plagues couples that want to have children, overwhelming them with grief and sadness. Solutions like IVF are too expensive for many would-be parents, and generally these fertility treatments are not covered by your average health plan.
One of the benefits of fish oil is improved fertility in both men and women.
Sperm motility is the measure of how sperm navigates its way through the woman’s reproductive system. Low motility means that sperm has an incredibly difficult time finding its target.
Here’s some good news. When men increase their DHA intake, they produce stronger and healthier sperm with better motility.
Fish oil also helps female fertility. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and prevents blood clots, both of which benefits a woman’s reproductive system. They’ve also been shown to balance female hormones and boost the blood flow to the uterus.
That One Side Effect Everyone’s Talking About…
This is where people get a little sensitive.
Remember that fish oil is actually produced from real, live fish. So if you have any sensitivities to fish, you may need to see a doctor before adding fish oil to your diet.
But the biggest complaint people have? The burps.
That’s right – many people get a tiny case of the burps after taking fish oil. And since it’s made from real fish, the burps leave them with a little taste of fish in the breath. Doesn’t sound too appealing, does it?
But don’t worry. There’s ways around it.
One of the easiest “home remedies” to alleviate the burps is to simply time your fish oil supplement with a meal. Take it during lunch, for example. Having extra food in your stomach helps you absorb the fish oil quicker, so you burp less.
The other solution is to make sure you’re taking the highest quality of fish oil pills. The truly high-caliber supplements don’t give you as bad of a time with burps. We’ve tried several and have great recommendations for you. (LINK to product)
If you continue to have issues, make sure to check with your doctor.
Myth: The Risk of Bleeding
There’ve been some assertions that fish oils can increase the risk of bleeding. Though this legend gets bounced around from time to time, studies have shown that there indeed is no additional risk of bleeding from fish oils. Without any concrete evidence to support it, we have to categorize this one as a “myth”.
Prostate Cancer? The Research is Mixed
Some controversial studies came out recently, indicating that patients who over-dose on fish oil have elevated risk of prostate cancer. This can be confusing to many patients who’ve heard that fish oil actually reduces the risk of some cancers.
We certainly know that fish oil helps support the immune system by its interaction with T-cells, which are critical in attacking unhealthy cells in the body.
Always assume that over-dosing on any supplement is a poor idea. Follow the recommended dose on the instruction label of your bottle of fish oil supplements, and you’ll be fine.
The fact is, we can’t make omega-3 fatty acids, so we have to consume them to harness the awesome power of their benefits.
Here’s Where to Get Fish Oil
The easiest way to incorporate more fish oil and their phenomenal omega-3 fatty acids is to eat more fish. Fish like salmon, halibut and herring all have fatty acids you need. Salmon has an extra boost because it contains astaxanthin, which unlocks some of the incredible immune benefits in fish oil.
But if more fish in your diet is difficult or even impossible to implement, then it’s time to check out fish oil supplements. We have recommendations (LINK to product) for high-quality fish oils that are guaranteed to come from the highest quality of cold-water fish. Not only that, they won’t have the mercury you see in other oils on the market.
With all these options at your fingertips, it’s time to join the rest of the world in the battle for good health.