One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

16 Feb

Fish Oils

Today we’re going to take a little break from the blog series, Toxins in Water and we’re going to talk about fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids!

What is fish oil?

Fish oil is derived from the tissues of oily fish.  The oils typically contain omega-3, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (source)

What are the health benefits of fish oil?

Fish oil (mainly the omega-3s in it) have shown to help various aspects of mental and physical health.  EPA is linked to heart health and DHA may help brain function.  Omega-3s have been linked to improving numerous health conditions such as:  diseases related to inflammation such as heart attacks, strokes, cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol, diabetes, PMS,memory loss, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and insulin resistance, or rheumatoid arthritis may also benefit from the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil (source).

What are the best sources of fish oil?

You may be surprised to know that fish don’t produce omega-3 but accumulate them from the algae and fish they eat.  It makes sense then that fatty fish high up on the food chain have high levels of omega-3 fats but can contain high levels of mercury as well (source).  If you buy fish oil capsules, look for ones with 2 g of one that contains EPA and DHA.  Also, make sure the supplement has been tested to be free of heavy metals such as mercury and lead, and other toxins.  However, your best bet is to consume oily, cold-water fish such as wild Alaskan salmon, mackerel, sardines (see below), herring and black cod  a few times per week (source)

Caution according to Dr. Weil:  Because they can affect blood clotting, avoid fish oil supplements if you’re taking any anticoagulant drugs such as Coumadin (warfarin), have had a hemorrhagic stroke, or are scheduled for surgery. People with allergies to fish should avoid fish-derived omega-3 capsules. Fish meat may contain mercury, so pregnant and breastfeeding women and children should take care to eat species of fish that are low on the food chain and relatively free of contaminants (source).
If you are a vegetarian:  flaxseeds can be a great source of healthy omega-3s!
Next week we are going to talk about the specific health benefits of omega-3s, EPA and DHA.

 

Question?

Do you eat cold-water fish?  Do you take a fish oil supplement?

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3 Responses to “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”

  1. Corinne @ RI Nutrition Housecalls February 17, 2012 at 12:42 am #

    HI! I don’t eat any fish anymore and don’t take supplements either. I have mixed feelings about fish eating- I think it can play a role in a healthful diet, however it is not necessary to eat fish to be healthy.

    • naturallyhealthyandgorgeous February 17, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

      I agree with you, Corinne, fish isn’t necessary, but it does have some health benefits (along with risks ie. mercury). What foods to you eat to try and get Omega-3s in your diet?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and DHA « naturallyhealthyandgorgeous - February 23, 2012

    […] Last week we talked about how fish oils are a great source of Omega-3s and DHA.  In this post, we will explore the health benefits of Omega-3s and DHA as well as list additional food sources for this health promoting compounds! […]

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