Specific Benefits Of Fish Oil

If you've kept up with the latest news on nutrition, you've no doubt heard about the benefits of fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids. But wait - you've also heard it's a good idea to reduce your fat intake. So why should you supplement your diet with omega-3 fatty acids?
The answer is that not all fats are the same. In fact there are several types, usually grouped in three broad categories: trans fat, saturated fat and unsaturated fat.
Foods containing trans fat (cookies, cake and french fries, to name a few) not only increase LDL, or "bad" cholesterol but also lower HDL "good" cholesterol. These foods should be eaten in moderation. So should foods with saturated fat, such as butter, pizza, ice cream and red meat, which also increase bad cholesterol levels.
Foods that raise good cholesterol numbers include olive oil, vegetables, nuts and, most important, cold-water seafood, especially salmon. These all contain unsaturated fat, mostly of the polyunsaturated variety.
Fish oil - composed of two polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) - can provide several health advantages, and not just for adults in general. It can be particularly beneficial for women who are pregnant or nursing, for children and for adults with heart problems or exhibiting signs of Alzheimer's disease.
Studies have shown the benefits of fish oil taken during pregnancy on both the expectant mother and the developing child. DHA turns out to be a major building block in the fetal development of the brain and eyes, while EPA helps regulate the length of gestation.
During the growth and development that occur subsequently in infancy and childhood, fish oil can be crucial for proper eye and nerve development. A study involving five-year-olds indicated a definite connection between mothers who took omega-3 supplements while breastfeeding and a higher level of concentration skills in their children.
Perhaps even more striking is the role fish oil may play in reducing heart attacks, even among individuals who have already suffered one. An Italian study of more than 11,000 men who had survived coronaries found that adding omega-3s to their diet significantly decreased not only their overall risk of nonfatal heart attack and stroke but the rate of death as well.
The shrinking and disappearance of brain cells due to Alzheimer's disease is also believed by some researchers to be offset by a diet high in omega-3s. Though generally associated with the elderly, symptoms of Alzheimer's can begin decades earlier. Our brain, reaching full size when we are age 20, begins gradually shrinking soon afterward and on average decreases by 11 percent by age 45. Cutting-edge Alzheimer's studies suggest that a fish-oil-rich diet may slow if not halt this shrinkage.
And for those of us who already enjoy good health, fish oil offers another benefit. The EPA it contains helps the skin retain a smooth, youthful-looking quality with fewer wrinkles and fewer outbreaks of acne.
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