The pros and cons of fish oil

You may have heard many times that it’s good to eat lots of fish. But what is special about fish oil?

Fish oils are loaded with omega 3 essential fatty acids, that our bodies need, but are not able to make.

Fatty fish, such as salmon, trout, or sardines, are rich in omega 3, and also a good source of vitamins A and D. White fish have these in much lower quantities. There are some other good sources of omega 3, including flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts.

Omega 3 plays an important role in brain function and preventing inflammation. Deficiency can lead to many health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, mood disorders, and arthritis.

Eating lots of fresh fish, and adding plant sources of omega 3 to your diet, is a great choice for your health.

For most of us, though, it is hard to get enough omega 3 just from our food alone. That’s where fish oil comes in. Its benefits not only include improved brain function, but it also helps with diabetes, autoimmune disease, Alzheimer’s disease, high cholesterol, depression and anxiety, and ADHD. It can also support weight loss too.

Sometimes you will see fish oils and cod liver oil. Fish oils are extracted from deep sea fish like tuna, mackerel, salmon and sardines. Cod liver oil, as the name suggests, is extracted from the liver of cod and is also high in omega 3, but contains lower amounts of vitamin A and D.

Many studies have shown how fish oil can help cancer treatment, especially colon and breast cancer, and also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

If you are not regularly consuming these foods that are rich in omega 3 fatty acids — like oily fish, flaxseed, hempseed, walnuts, spirulina, eggs, chia seeds, fresh basil, and dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach — then you may like to add them to your diet via a supplement.

Just remember, more is not always the better way to go. So what do you need to be careful of, when you buy fish oil supplements? Farmed salmon is the largest source of PCBs and chlorinated pesticides. Atlantic salmon is 100 percent farmed.

On the other hand, Alaskan Pacific salmon, often named king, red, or silver (also called chinook, coho and sockeye) is not farmed. So when you buy your supplements, make sure to check the sources of the fish oil.

Because the persistent toxicants in farmed salmon will lead to many health problems, stay in your body for a long time, and do your body more harm than good.

Our health is directly connected to what we are eating, and how much. Keeping your body healthy means giving it enough nutrients, and of course taking time for your soul too.

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Ayda Ersoy is a nutrition and fitness director at The Diet Doc Hawaii. She can be reached at DietDocHawaii.com, Ayda@DietDocHawaii.com or (808) 276-6892

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