7 health benefits of fish oil

Fish oils are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help with memory, heart health and so much more.
See the many health benefits of fish oil (Photo Getty Images). See the many health benefits of fish oil. Photo, Getty Images.

This was originally published in August 2014 and has been updated. It’s no secret that fish oil keeps inflammation down and is important for hearth health. But what you may not know is that its benefits may impact everything from city living and bone density to fat burning and brain power. Here are seven things you may not know about the benefits of fish oils:

1. Reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis According to a University of Bristol study, omega-3 fish oil could significantly reduce the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis. Omega-3-rich diets fed to guinea pigs, which naturally develop osteoarthritis, reduced the disease by 50 percent compared to those who ate standard diets.

2. Reduce the signs of aging Growing evidence suggests that telomere shortening (the DNA at the end of your chromosomes) could be a sign of aging. A 2010 study uncovered a link between blood levels of fish oil and the rate of telomere shortening over five years, suggesting an explanation for the protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids. The study looked at more than 600 patients and found that the higher the blood levels of fish-derived omega-3 acids in patients with coronary heart disease, the longer the telomeres. Adding fish like salmon to your diet at least twice a week is a great way to boost your omega-3 intake.

3. Improve the effects of exercise When Peter Howe and his colleagues at the University of South Australia studied the effects of diet and exercise on the body, they found fish oil supplements and exercise made for a powerful fat-loss combination. During the study, overweight and obese adults with metabolic syndrome, and a greater risk of heart disease, took omega-3 fish oil daily in combination with moderate aerobic exercise three times a week for 12 weeks. Body fat stores, particularly abdominal fat, were significantly reduced in the fish-oil-plus-exercise group, but not in those who used fish oil or exercise alone.

4. Boost brain power and memory Researchers have found positive associations between fish oil supplements and cognitive functioning as well as differences in brain structure between users and non-users of fish oil supplements. Compared to non-users, fish oil supplements were associated with better cognitive functioning during the study. In one rat study, there was a clear association between fish oil and brain volume in two critical areas utilized in memory and thinking (cerebral cortex and hippocampus).

5. Preserves lean muscle in cancer patients Supplementing your diet with fish oil may prevent the muscle loss that commonly occurs in cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy. The trial involved 16 patients who took fish oil (2.2 g of eicosapentaenoic acid/day) and 24 patients who did not. Patients who did not take fish oil lost an average of 2.3 kg whereas patients receiving fish oil maintained their weight. What’s even more interesting is that 69 percent of patients in the fish oil group gained or maintained muscle mass.

6. Improve bone health When it comes to maintaining bone density, calcium, vitamin D and magnesium shouldn’t be your only supplements. The omega-3 fatty acid DHA is essential for optimal bone health. Researchers compared the effect of an omega-6 DPA and the omega-3 DHA in the growth of long bones in rats. The results showed that the rats fed the omega-6-supplemented diet had the lowest bone mineral content and bone mineral density compared to the rats fed the omega-3-supplemented diet.

7. Protect yourself from the effects of air pollution Who knew that one of the many benefits of fish oil includes protecting your heart from air pollution? According to a 2012 American study it's true. Twenty-nine healthy, middle-aged adults received either 3 g of fish oil or a placebo daily for four weeks and were then exposed to unclean air for two hours. Researchers found that those who took the fish oil didn’t have the same negative responses as those who only took the placebo.

Natasha Turner, N.D., is a naturopathic doctor and author of the bestselling books The Hormone Diet, The Supercharged Hormone Diet and The Carb Sensitivity Program. She’s also the founder of the Toronto-based Clear Medicine Wellness Boutique and a regular guest on The Dr. Oz Show and The Marilyn Denis Show. For more wellness advice from Natasha Turner, click here

Get omega-3s into your diet by eating salmon. Here are Chatelaine's favourite salmon recipes:

Seared Salmon with Lentil Salad

Served on a bed of garlicky lentils and fresh arugula, this pan-seared salmon is bursting with flavour. Get our Seared Salmon with Lentil Salad recipe here. 

A salad with salmon, tomatoes and arugula on a blue plate on a blue table.(Recipes by Irene Ngo; Produced by Stephanie Han Kim, Sun Ngo and Aimee Nishitoba; nPhotography by Erik Putz and Christie Vuong; Food styling by Ashley Denton; Prop styling by Madeleine Johari)

Beet-Cured Salmon Gravlax

Looking for a great, make-ahead brunch classic to wow your guests? Give cured salmon gravlax a try. We use beets to give the gravlax an extra bit of pizzazz. Get our beet-cured salmon gravlax recipe here. 

Beet-cured salmon gravlax served on a golden plate as a part of a mother's day brunch spread(Production: Sun Ngo. Photography: Christie Vuong. Food styling: Eshun Mott. Prop styling: Christine Hanlo.)

Salmon Poke Bowl

An easy and delicious way to get your veggies, grains and omega-3s. Get this salmon poke bowl recipe.

salmon poke bowlPhoto, Erik Putz.

Broiled Salmon Nicoise Salad

A rainbow of fresh vegetables makes this broiled salmon salad a hearty and healthy meal. Get this broiled salmon Nicoise salad recipe.

Overhead shot of an oval plate filled with tomatoes, green beans, radishes, salmon and soft-boiled eggs on a wooden table.Photo, Carmen Cheung.

One-Pan Roasted Salmon And Vegetables

This sheet pan salmon and veggies dish is perfect for a no-fuss dinner. Get this one-pan roasted salmon and vegetables recipe.

one-pan roasted salmon and vegetables on a plate with two lemon wedges(Photo: Carmen Cheung; Produced by: Stephanie Han Kim; Food styling: Eshun Mott; Prop styling: Madeleine Johari)

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Salmon With Fennel and Grapefruit Salad

It’s an explosion of flavours: Sweet and spicy fish pairs beautifully with the sweet-tart salad. Get this glazed salmon with fennel and grapefruit salad recipe.

Sweet and spicy glazed salmon with fennel and grapefruit salad on a plate.Photo, Erik Putz.

Salmon And Asparagus Sheet Pan Dinner

Baked on a single pan and ready in less than 30 minutes, this sheet-pan dinner is a great low-mess meal for busy weeknights. Get this salmon and asparagus sheet pan dinner recipe.

Salmon, asparagus and lemons on a sheet pan

Salmon Fillets With Green Beans And Zucchini Orzo

Ready in less than 30 minutes, this light salmon-on-salad is a breeze to make after a long day. Get this salmon fillet with green beans and zucchini orzo recipe.

Salmon fillets with green beans and zucchini orzo on dinner platesPhoto, Roberto Caruso.

Baked Pesto-Stuffed Salmon Fillets

Salmon fillets are stuffed with pesto and cream cheese and topped with crispy panko breadcrumbs for this impressive dinner. Get this baked pesto-stuffed salmon fillets recipe.

Pesto and cream cheese stuffed salmon with salad.Photo, Erik Putz.

Baked Salmon With Acorn Squash

The trick to moist, flavourful baked salmon is to keep the skin on, which helps prevent it from drying out. Plus, the layer of fat between the skin and the flesh is where most of the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids are found. Get this baked salmon with acorn squash recipe.

Baked salmon with acorn squash and brussels sprouts on a sheet panPhoto, Erik Putz.

Grilled Honey-Dijon Salmon Fillets

It only takes five minutes to prep for this sweet and zesty salmon dish! Get this grilled honey-Dijon salmon fillet recipe.

Grilled salmon on a grilled apple salad served on a grey platePhoto, Roberto Caruso.

Smoky Salmon and Chorizo

This fresh, five ingredient salmon dish from Jamie Oliver's cookbook, Quick & Easy Food, is the perfect spring meal. Get this smoky salmon and chorizo recipe.

Jamie Oliver's Smoky Salmon and ChorizoRecipes from 5 Ingredients – Quick & Easy Food by Jamie Oliver ©2017. Published in Canada by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Baked Salmon Rice Bowl With Togarashi

Salmon gets a Japanese-inspired twist in this healthy rice bowl. (Plus, the leftovers are used to make dinner tomorrow night.) Get this baked salmon rice bowl with togarashi recipe.

Baked salmon rice bowl with togarashi in a shallow bowl.Photo, Carmen Cheung.

Salmon Burgers

Use yesterday's salmon and vegetable leftovers to make baked salmon burgers with a tangy slaw. Get this salmon burgers recipe.

Salmon burgers on a platter.Photo, Carmen Cheung.

Slow Cooker Poached Salmon With Fennel And Orange

The perfect healthy and flavourful weeknight dinner. Get this slow cooker poached salmon recipe

White plate top with poached salmon and steamed broccoli.Photo, Andrew Grinton.

Salmon Cakes With Green Beans

Made with canned salmon (a should-be cupboard staple), these cakes are a healthy, affordable and versatile choice. Get this salmon cakes with green beans recipe.

Salmon cakes with green beans on a platePhoto, Roberto Caruso.

Watch: Grilling secrets for fish


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