Fish Oil Health Benefits and Side Effects
What Is Fish Oil?
Fish oil is one of the most effective and consumed dietary supplement in North America. It contains polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Fish oil does not contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), as ALA is mostly found in plant-based foods.
The anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil come from its antioxidants, healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
When looking to get high-quality fish oil, you need to look at the nutrition facts, ingredients list, and the optimal ratio of EPA to DHA, to determine the best fish oil supplement. The optimal EPA to DHA ratio is 3:2.
Healthy fats help lower triglycerides levels, stabilize blood sugar levels, improve heart health, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The Benefits of Fish Oil
1. Prevents Heart Disease
Multiple scientific studies found that taking 1 fish oil capsule daily had a significantly reduced risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular diseases, arrhythmia, and heart failure. Taking 2 capsules per day had an additional 15% to 20% improvement.
A study conducted with 22,000 healthy males and 84,688 healthy women found that taking daily fish oil supplements daily improved the health of red blood cells.
These people were at risk of arrhythmia and myocardial infarctions, their risk of contracting these complications was reduced by 70%.
Inflammation is the immune system's response to fighting infections, foreign agents, and treating injuries. Fish oil helps the body cushion and protect the affected area, this reduces swelling and increases blood flow.
Reducing inflammation helps treat certain mental disorders and improve cognitive function, as your brain is made up of roughly 60% fats, most of which are omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3s are essential for proper brain function and health. In many research studies, it's been shown that most individuals who suffer from cognitive decline and disorders have a lower level of omega-3 fats in their diets.
3. Aids In Weight Loss
According to the World Health Organization, 33% of children under the age of 12 are classified as obese, while 1.9 billion adults are overweight. Obesity is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD), heart failure (HF), and coronary heart disease (CHD).
The healthy fats found in fish oils lower insulin levels, which helps induce weight loss. The long-chain fatty acids found in fish increases levels of adiponectin. Adiponectin is a hormone that regulates glucose levels, which increases insulin sensitivity.
Being sensitive to insulin allows you to stay fuller for longer after eating. This lowers the frequency and intensity of cravings and allows you to maintain consistent energy levels throughout the day.
The Side Effects of Fish Oil
1. Negatively Interacts With Certain Medication
Some of the more major side effects of fish oil consumption include an increased risk of bleeding and hemorrhagic strokes. These effects may be due to fish oil’s blood-thinning effects.
Fish oil is a blood-thinner that makes it harder for your blood to clot, this increases your risk of brain hemorrhage or a hemorrhagic stroke.
Avoid taking fish oil before going on surgical medication, any surgeries, and a few weeks after surgery. A surgeon or nurse will typically ask you if you have taken fish oil, aspirin or any blood thinners before surgery.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Fish oil’s blood-thinning effects can cause a drastic drop in blood pressure, which can be beneficial or harmful. A study conducted on 31 patients who were given either a placebo or 1g fish oil per day for 3 to 24 weeks.
After the research trial was over, they found that the placebo group found a 7% decrease in blood pressure, per gram of fish oil consumed.
Fatty fish are full of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which are essential for proper immune health, heart health, and for reducing inflammation. The numerous health benefits range from improved blood sugar levels to improved brain function.
Omega-3 fatty acids also significantly lower cardiac risk factors while improving insulin sensitivity. Omega-3s are easy to incorporate into your diet through the use of fish oil, which plays a critical role in most systems in the human body.
Christopher Karam is a certified nutritionist, dietitian, and personal trainer at MyDietGoal. Our team of M.D.s and researchers deliver thoroughly researched articles on common health, dieting, and wellness-related topics.