Why is fish oil good for you?

We have all heard about how fish oil is good for you, but what is it and what’s so good about it?

Fish oil is extracted from the flesh of oily fish.  The oil comes from their nutrient-rich marine diet and the main ingredient that is beneficial for our health is omega-3 fatty acids.  This essential polyunsaturated fat needs to be included in our diet because our bodies can’t naturally synthesize it.  Omega-3 fats provide a plethora of health benefits, particularly the two fats available in fish – DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).

DHA and EPA are great for brain function and development.  A large percentage of the brain is made up of DHA so getting your daily intake will boost neurological function and brain health.  The cells in our bodies are enveloped by a cell membrane made out of fats, and omega-3 fatty acids help keep the membrane healthy and flexible, as well as helping hormones penetrate and communicate with target cells.  Fish oil has also been found to decrease the severity of Alzheimer’s symptoms and relieve mood disorders like anxiety and depression, as research has discovered that suicide-attempt patients have low levels of EPA.

Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in reducing cholesterol by increasing the amount of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) that clean the walls of blood vessels of cholesterol, and decreasing the amount of triglycerides in the blood stream, which is great for people who are at risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Omega-3 fats have anti-inflammatory effects that maintain joint health and provide relief for arthritis and skin conditions like psoriasis, and they also promote heart health by regulating heart beat and blood thickness, increasing blood circulation and lowering blood pressure.

The Australian Heart Foundation recommends consuming about 500mg of DHA/EPA daily.  DHA and EPA are found in oily fish like tuna, salmon and sardines, but fish oil supplements that are available at chemists and health food stores are just as good if you are conscious about mercury consumption and sustainability of fisheries.