The Benefits of Fish Oil
Fish oil contains the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are highly beneficial to humans in many ways. They are considered essential for the natural growth process in children and animals, they decrease inflammation that builds up in the human body by stimulating the flow of blood, they support cardiovascular health and help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and they even promote healthy looking skin.
Is that all? Hardly. Clinical studies have shown that fish oil can reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks significantly, along with reducing blood triglycerides. Omega-3 acids also help with rheumatoid arthritis, cardiac arrhythmias, reduce the chance of thrombotic and ischemic stroke, and they can prevent certain kinds of cancer (colon, prostate, and breast). Fish oil is truly amazing and you should be sure to include plenty in your diet (one to two grams per day). Bodybuilders have also been known to consume plenty of fish oil since they claim it helps eliminate body fat.
Strangely enough, fish do not actually produce the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids in their own bodies, but instead acquire it from eating various microalgea that live in the waters they inhabit. Certain predatory types of fish, such as albacore tuna, mackerel, and salmon contain high amounts of good omega-3s, but many toxic substances as well, such as mercury, PCBs (a highly toxic pollutant), dioxins, and other contaminants. Hence, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggests limiting such predatory fishes in one's diet. This is why it may be better to consume fish oil in softgell or pill form instead of actually eating fish. Programs such as the International Fish Oil Standards have been developed to ensure fish oil in capsules is purified and remains contaminant free.
Fish oil can even help your brain. Recent studies have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids improve mental function by promoting growth in the frontal brain cortex where regulation of personal behavior is located. One recent study showed that prisoners were less violent when given regular amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. And fish oil has also been known to fight depression.
How much fish oil should one take daily? If you have any type of coronary heart disease, The American Heart Association suggests consuming one gram of fish oil per day (although many people take two grams); and not in pill form, but from actually eating fish (I disagree with this because of the contaminants). If for some reason you cannot consume fish, another good source of omega-3 acids is flaxseed oil, although it doesn't contain DHA and EPA, but a precursor acid that the body converts into the previous two acids.
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