What are they?
Fish oils are exactly as they sound: naturally occurring oils found in oily fish, such as sardines, tuna, salmon, and cod. The oil, in particular, provides great health benefits as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids—specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Fish oils have been (and are currently being) studied for treating different types of neural and psychiatric diseases such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as their preventative use in cancer treatment.
Fish oils have been significantly linked to heart health. The US National Institutes of Health recommends consumptoin of fish oil, or other high omega-3 fatty acid sources, in cases of heart disease and stroke prevention. It is also scientifcally linked to lowering high blood pressure.1 Furthermore, there is lesser evidence that fish oil can aid in treating, as mentioned before, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) due to the presence of DHA in the human brain.
Where can I get it?
You can get fish oil in a variety of ways. First and foremost, you can eat oily fish. Oily fish, as opposed to other types of fish, are fish that contain fish oils in the meat of the fish and not in the liver. Furthermore, eating broiled or baked fish reduces the risk of heart disease, but eating fried fish not only cancels out the benefits of fish oil, but may actually increase the risk of heart disease.
Another more simple option is to take a high quality fish oil supplement. Fish oil supplements most often come in the form of an easy to digest pill and can be an easy and effective (not to mention less-filling) way of getting your daily intake of brain and heart healthy EPA and DHA. We recommend you only take high quality fish-oils derived from the bodies and not the livers (such as Cod Liver Oil) as these are much more beneficial and much better for both brain and heart.
Side effects / Warnings
If you are taking birth control pills or medications that treat high blood pressure, do not increase your fish oil intake. As fish oil helps in lowering triglycerides which help lower cholesterol and help lower blood pressure, taking fish oil supplements may lower your blood pressure by an unsafe amount. Similarly, birth control may interfere with the triglyceride lowering effects of fish oil.
Also, be aware of what type of animal the fish oil or fish oil supplement comes from. If you are eating predatory oily fish (such as swordfish) for your omega-3 fatty acids, be aware that swordfish can also be a source of unsafe toxins such as mercury. If you are taking a fish oil supplement, make sure it is a high quality fish oil supplement that contains as much pure fish oil as possible, lowering the risk of ingesting harmful toxins.