Health fads come and go. Some are tastier than others. Fish oil may not be your first choice for a midafternoon or late-night snack, but it can offer some short-term and long-term benefits that just might change your mind. The next time you get a hankering for a treat, think fish.
What It Doesn’t Do
Just as it name implies, fish oil contains fatty acids. According to a National Institutes of Health site on omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil has shown, over the course of numerous studies, to increase the level of good HDL cholesterol in the blood of those who eat or take it. However, fish oil also tends to increase the amount of bad LDL cholesterol in the blood.
What It Does Do
Fatty acids in fish oil are not all bad. Cholesterol is a necessary component in your blood, and good HDL cholesterol needs to play a prominent part. Fish oil provides plenty of this necessary cholesterol. Furthermore, fish oil helps prevent heart attacks and blood-clotting problems. According to a University of Minnesota webpage about fish oil, platelet production is slowed by fish oil. This is useful in preventing blockages and aneurysm-causing clots.
What the Risks Are
If you have cholesterol problems, especially chronic or life-threatening issues, you should seek advice from a doctor before taking fish oil pills. You should not assume that fish oil will help, as it may in fact raise your cholesterol. If you are concerned about blood clots, reconsider taking fish oil as it may aggravate the problem and put you at risk for a hemorrhage.
How Much You Need
Studies constantly emerge surrounding the amount of fish oil that should or should not be taken. More than worrying about the amount of fish oil per day, the National Institutes of Health recommends focusing on the amount of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)–omega-3 fatty acids–you get per day. Healthy adults should get 0.3 to 0.5 g of these per day. Check the packaging of your fish oil to determine how much DHA and EPA it delivers. If you are not taking supplements, you should strive to eat meals filled with fish oils twice per week.
How to Get It
If you are afraid you don’t get enough fish oil in your daily or weekly routine, or if you don’t like to eat fish, talk with your doctor about fish oil supplements, which are easy to take and widely available. If you enjoy fish, prepare fresh fish such as salmon, tuna, catfish, trout or herring with light spices and little oil.