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Is Fish Oil Better Than Fish?
Wouldn’t you agree - some of our favourite ways to enjoy fish are either frowned upon, or unhealthy?
Take canned tuna for example. It has some of the richest forms of Omega-3 acids: EPA and DHA, even more so than fresh fish, yet it’s scent defies desk-lunch etiquette.
Or there’s fish and chips. A delicious, beach-day signature, owing it’s taste to being dunked in unhealthy oils.
But there are other alternatives to getting your weekly fish intake. Besides the usual healthy (and often time consuming) ways like grilling or baking, there are fish oil supplements.
Like fish, they provide a long list of health benefits and make for a super simple way to get your weekly dose of nutrients.
But before we fully embrace our new-found alternative, let’s assess the benefits of fish oil supplements, if they’re just as good as fish, the best way to take them, and exactly what they are.
What exactly is fish oil?
It seems like a pretty straight forward question, with a rather obvious answer, right?
But since almond milk isn’t actually ‘milked’ from an almond, we thought it best to clarify.
Fish oil is the fatty-rich nutrients you take from fish flesh - in particular, species like herring, tuna, anchovies and mackerel. Alternatively, it can also come from fish liver, which is how you make cod liver oil.
What’s so great about fish oil is that no other Omega-3 source provides health benefits as rich.
Fish oil is rich in Omega-3 acids EPA and DHA, which present far greater benefits than the other plant-based acid - ALA.
But enough fun facts, let’s take a look at some of the more serious health benefits we have fish oil to thank.
Good for heart health
No doubt, having ‘heart problems’ is commonly perceived as an ‘old person’ thing. But that’s even more of a reason to take care of your heart from the beginning.
Here are some of the ways how Fish supplements can help you do so:
Arrhythmias - Omega-3 can reduce fatal arrhythmias events, a condition where an abnormal heart rate can lead to a heart attack.
Triglycerides - These guys are a different type of fat found in your blood. Essentially, it’s what calories are converted into and the type of cells we want to keep low.
Taking Omega-3 can help you do that, with studies showing that it helps reduce them by 15-30%.
Cholesterol levels - Unlike the two conditions above, fish oil can help you keep your HDL cholesterol levels up - the ‘good kind’ that is. High levels of HDL help to keep amounts of bad cholesterol down.
Help improve mental disorders
While we often think of fat as an obstacle to our summer bods, the right kind of fat found in fish oil is actually great for you. Especially, your mental health.
Your brain is made up of 60% fat, so by keeping your intake up, you can help prevent the onset of psychiatric disorders and improve the symptoms of mental health illnesses like depression. In fact, research shows that high doses of fish oil supplements can reduce the severity of disorders, like bipolar and schizophrenia.
Prevents symptoms of mental health decline
Similar to improving your mental health, fish oil supplements can help prevent the natural decline in brain function as you get older.
This applies to everything from your memory to the development of Alzheimers disease.
Protects eye health
Some of the great perks that come with old age include watching your grandkids grow up or perhaps endless and guilt-free Netflix marathons.
But both require your eye health to be in great shape, and unfortunately as you get older, you’re prone to developing eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration (AMD) which leads to eye damage and possible blindness.
That’s why fish oil is great. Omega-3 fats supplements can help reduce the risk of developing diseases, or alternatively, help improve the vision of AMD patients.
Helps keep a healthy glow
Aussies love to tan. And although there are obvious choices to prevent looking like a leather handbag - wear sunscreen - we want to do everything we can to keep our skin in tip-top shape. Fish oil supplements are great for that, mainly because your skin is built from a heap of Omega-3 acids. So by upping your intake, you can replenish your outer layer with nutrients and maintain a healthy coat.
Nourishment during pregnancy and early stages
While you get some outrageous cravings when you’re pregnant, you can also develop a deep disdain for the most random foods. If it turns out to be fish, at least you can get all the same awesome benefits from supplements. And trust us, they’re not the ones you would want to miss out on.
Studies show that taking fish oil supplements during pregnancy can help improve your baby’s visual development and reduce the risk of allergies. Additionally, if taken during breastfeeding, it can help improve your child’s hand-eye coordination.
Did you know that pimples are a type of inflammation? Yep, they’re simply an area that’s become infected, and most likely red because your body’s fighting back.
While we sometimes react as though Mt. Vesuvius 2.0 is about to erupt, there can be a much more serious side to inflammation. Often it’s seen in cases like obesity, diabetes, depression and heart disease.
Fortunately, Omega-3 can help relieve chronic inflammation by reducing the production of inflammatory molecules called cytokines.
Other inflammatory related conditions it can help include joint pain, stiffness, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Your Guide to Fish Oil Supplements
So now that you’re clued up on all the benefits, let’s look at the best way to take advantage of them.
Whether you take fish oil supplements as a stand-alone oil or capsule, it’s best to consider the following:
On average, the World Health Organisation recommends you take a supplement with anywhere between 200-500mg of EPA and DHA - the Omega-3 acids mentioned earlier, specifically found in fish oil.
We said no more fun facts. But fun fact: fat helps absorb fat:
So to make sure you get the most out of your Omega-3 oil supplement intake, aim to incorporate it with meals that contain fats, to aid with the absorbption.
The best fish oil supplements
There are lots of different types of fish oil supplements - triglycerides (TG), reformed triglycerides (rTG), free fatty acids (FFA) and phospholipids (PL).
The only kind you shouldn’t bother with is ethyl esters (EE), as your body doesn’t absorb them well.
Like many other vitamins, fish oil oxidizes.
So keeping them exposed to air actually can make them go off. To help prevent that, try the supplements that come with Vitamin E because they’re a natural antioxidant,
Alternatively, try keeping your supplements in the fridge, away from exposed light.
Another thing to note: if your supplement smells a bit funky or is out of date, it’s also advised you don’t take it.
So fish fans, if you’re stuck in a situation where you have to go without, i.e your mate doesn’t want to share the anchovy special - fret not. There’s a range of supplements that will do just as great of a job of amping up your Omega-3 intake.
For more info on the different types, why not check out our range of fish oil supplements, or see what made the hott list of 8 Fish Supplements You Need To Know About.