Fish oil is derived from the tissues of oily fish. Recently, fish oils have found popularity as a supplement and new research suggests that fish oils could provide us with more health and weight loss benefits than ever previously realised.
Fish oils are known to be beneficial to general health, including cardiovascular health, and are thought to protect against certain diseases. The American Heart Association recommends an intake of 1g of fish oil per day for patients with coronary heart disease, and the US National Institute of Health also recommends taking fish oil to improve the symptoms of 3 specific heart conditions.
Recent studies have also shown that fish oil could reduce the symptoms of lupus and could potentially reduce your risk of certain types of cancers, including breast, colon and prostate cancer.
Fish oil is not just beneficial for physical health, however – a recent study showed that one type of fish oil could reduce the risk of depression and suicide. Another study in a prison on prison inmates showed that assault rates dropped in inmates who were fed oily seafood. It’s also thought that fish oils could reduce the risk of certain disorders such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Aside from those health benefits, fish oil can also be beneficial in treating something many women experience – PMT or pre-menstrual tension. Between 80-90% of women who have periods experience at least 1 PMT symptom each month, with 30-40% of those women experiencing severe and incapacitating symptoms. Two recent studies have shown a distinct relationship between the consumption of fish oils and a reduction in PMT symptoms – 68% of women tested in one of those studies said that taking the fish oil was ‘worthwhile and effective’, and 73% of women said that they would recommend taking fish oil for PMT to their friends.
Fish oil can be taken as a supplement for weight loss, too – it is thought to positively influence metabolism, meaning that you’ll digest your food more quickly, to activate enzymes in your body that are responsible for burning fat, meaning that your body burns fat more easily, and also helps to reduce insulin resistance. Studies have shown that taking fish oil supplements in conjunction with doing regular aerobic exercise can help you to burn off up to 26% more calories per day and more body fat than if you didn’t take any fish oil supplements.
Fish oil is beneficial in so many ways because it contains omega-3 fatty acids. Although omega-3 fatty acids can be found in many different foods aside from fish, including flaxseed oil, nuts and other plant sources, fatty acids come in different forms in different foods. In fish, you’ll find eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, and these are the omega-3 fatty acids that will give you the majority of the benefits of all of the omega-3s. We have also now included The Healthy Mummy Fish Oils in our weight loss plans and you can see them here
In nuts and seeds, however, you’ll find alpha-linoleic acid, a completely different type of fatty acid which can help to protect you from clotting disorders, build cell membranes within the brain and reduce inflammation all over the body.
Alpha-linoleic acid has also been shown to reduce the risk of a fatal heart attack in some patients, and to reduce the unhealthy LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your body whilst increasing the healthy HDL cholesterol levels – so whilst all omega-3 fatty acids can help to burn body fat and reduce your weight overall, giving you the body you’ve always dreamed of, alpha-linoleic acid in particular can help to repair some of the internal problems caused by that excess weight.
The difference between the fatty acids from fish and the fatty acids from nuts and seeds is that alpha-linoleic acid, found in nuts, cannot be taken into the body on its own – the body needs to convert it into the other two fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid in order for it to be effective.
Because of this, it’s generally recommended that you take in your omega-3 fatty acids from food sources where possible, as they don’t have to be converted, although alpha-linoleic acid is still beneficial to your health – it just takes some time for it to be converted to a type of omega-3 fatty acid that your body can actually use.
The DHA found in fish oils is also essential for the growth and development of a breastfed baby’s brain as well as that of the foetus – therefore taking a fish oil can support the healthy brain development and function. DHA also plays an important role in the development of the retina of the eye.
Fish oil supplementation by the mother has been shown to increase DHA and omega-3 fatty acid content of the breast milk.
We have now also included fish oils in our weight loss plans
To see our list of fish weight loss recipes click here