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A Few Facts About Fish Oil and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
A wide array of research and clinical studies indicate that omega-3 fatty acids can fight a number of serious diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune diseases. While some particulars about the inner-workings of omega-3’s are unknown, it is commonly believed that omega-3’s ability to ward off inflammation is largely responsible for its effectiveness, as inflammation plays key a role in all of the diseases they combat.
The best place to find omega-3 fatty acids is in fish and shellfish. It is widely sold in supplement form and marketed as “fish oil,” although different strands of omega-3 can be found elsewhere, in plants like flaxseed. The most potent and effective form is long-chain omega-3, also known as EPA, and this is the form found in fish oil.
Omega-3’s troublesome sibling, omega-6, is sometimes confused for the more helpful fatty acid, and can be located in foods like cookies and corn-fed beef. With the widespread acceptance and consumption of artificial, fattening foods, the population’s intake of omega-6 has skyrocketed, which is worrisome due to omega-6’s ability to cause inflammation, the very health concern omega-3’s acts against. Omega-6 can also restrict the body from properly metabolizing omega-3.
One strand of omega-3, called DHA, happens to be important in brain function, meaning that consumption of the fatty acid by the elderly can be beneficial for cognitive ability. A particular study at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging showed that men and women over the age of 65 were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s upon increase of their fish intake, while a separate study indicated omega-3 may have a beneficial effect on the arteries of older females.
Although there are numerous benefits to adding omega-3’s to a diet, it is important to limit the number of helpings of fish consumed because mercury and other toxins can accumulate in the blood stream. Additionally, health-conscious consumers of omega-3 should avoid foods that are rich in omega-6, like corn, soybean, and sunflower, as these foods can counteract the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.