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We hear a lot about fat and how we should avoid it, but that is really only half of the story.  While all naturally occurring fats are important, most people get far too many of the “bad” fats and not enough “good” ones.  These are usually found in animal products like meat, milk, cheese, and butter.  That doesn’t mean animal products are bad, just that you need to eat them in moderation.  The fats most people aren’t getting enough of are called omega-3’s and are present in fish oil (the best source), flaxseed and nuts. 1

Their benefits of these fats were first discovered many years ago. At the time, scientists realized that Eskimos ate an awful lot of fat, but had very few cases of heart disease. 2  As it turns out, their main source of fat came from seafood, which is high in omega-3’s. Here in America we tend to already get plenty of “bad” fat and not-so-much of the omega-3’s.  Thus, we should be eating fish at least twice per week  3

Omega Benefits of Taking Fish Oil Supplements

  • Omega-3’s actually slow the aging of your brain. They increase cells’ ability to communicate, protect themselves from damage and create new cells. 4
  • Heart disease is a significant killer, but omega-3’s have proven to reduce your risk. The heart beats with a healthier pattern and blood vessels work better with these fats around. 5
  • Your joints can benefit from fish oil too. Omega-3’s have been shown to improve tender and swollen joints, morning stiffness and function, and may even relieve arthritis pain. 6, 7
  • Fish oil is good for your heart, for sure, but it also seems to be good for your “broken heart.” It probably won’t replace Prozac, but studies have found a strong link between fish oil and improved mood. 8
  • Whenever a part of your body experiences an infection or irritation, “inflammation” begins and usually ends with the destruction of tissue. This is really bad if that tissue happens to be in your heart or other vital organ.  Omega-3’s naturally fight inflammation and thus the destruction of body tissue. 9

Some Caution About Fish Oil

  • Omega-3 deficiencies are associated with a variety of health problems, but high intakes have too. So while you should have fish at least a couple times per week, you might think twice about taking a handful of pills every day. 10
  • Fish oil’s relationship with cancer is unclear. For instance, fish oil seems to reduce prostate cancer risk in some studies, but increases it significantly in others. 10
  • Omega-3’s are no doubt beneficial to your health, but mercury is not. This heavy metal is toxic and often present in fish, especially ones higher up on the food chain.  Your body can deal with small amounts of mercury, just don’t eat swordfish or shark every night. 11

Puritan's Pride Triple Strength Omega-3 Fish Oil 1360 mg (950 mg Active Omega-3)-240 Softgels

Some Fish Oil Pills

Pills should never be a substitute for good nutrition, but getting enough omega-3’s can sometimes be difficult and costly whereas fish oil pills are easy and cheap.  The good news is that fish oil pills often have less mercury than actual fish because of purification processes that remove heavy metals. 12  However, some experts caution that the most benefit from fish likely comes from the whole thing, not just the omega-3’s. 10