Benefits Of Fish Oil

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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We see and hear a lot these days about the benefits of fish oil, and how good it is for us. If we're old enough, we might remember stories we heard from grandparents about that nasty-tasting cure-all, cod liver oil. So what is all this about? What is in the fish oil, and why is it so wonderful?

What Are the Benefits of Fish Oil?

Twenty years of empirical studies arose from a simple observation of several thousand years of overwhelming evidence. Among the Eskimos of Greenland and Alaska, there was a minimal instance of heart disease and arthritis, despite a diet extremely high in fat. Was there a connection?

Yes. The staple of the Eskimo diet was cold-water fish--salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines--and mammals that feed on them (seals and whales, for example). These animals are all rich sources of Omega 3 fatty acids, one of two families of essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids, in turn, are critical to our circulatory and nervous systems. Our bodies cannot manufacture them. We therefore must consume them. The Eskimos did, and here we are, much the wiser.

What, then, are the specific benefits of fish oil? What are the health conditions where they prove so helpful? If you have (or are worried about getting) heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, psoriasis, or osteoporosis, you should look into the benefits of fish oil. That is a mouthful--plenty of incentive to heed the admonitions and include in our diet a balanced proportion of either foods high in fish oil or supplements containing it. We don't, however, need to taste the horrid tablespoon or two a day of cod liver oil that Tom Sawyer did. Such small favors we enjoy.

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