Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are the most beneficial substance in fish. The oils are termed ‘essential’ because we need them to live a healthy life but cannot synthesise them effectively.
Benefits of omega-3 contained in fish:
In addition to the benefits of the essential omega-3 oils, as the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reports that fish is a food of excellent nutritional value, providing the following from marine fish.
The following review highlights some typical and important examples of many thousands of research publications linking fish oils with human health benefits.
Mental health and development
Fish oils in fatty fish are the richest source of Omega-3 oils which are vital to normal brain development in unborn babies and in infants. Without adequate amounts of these fatty acids, normal brain development does not take place.
Reducing heart attacks and strokes
Eskimos, Japanese and Koreans have lower rates of heart disease because a big part of their diet is based on fish. No blood clots, no narrowing of the arteries by deposition of fatty material.
Diabetics especially benefit: People with diabetes are two to six times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease (CVD) than people without diabetes. Fish oil supplementation significantly lowers serum triglyceride levels in diabetic individuals.
A prospective study in the US followed 815 people aged over 65 from 1993 to 2000. Initially none had Alzheimer’s disease. During the study period 131 developed the disease. When incidence was compared with diet it was seen that those who consumed fish at least once per week had 60% less risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who consumed it less often or not at all.
Typically, a high incidence of depression occurred in those countries with a low consumption of fish. For example, in New Zealand, with fish consumption around 18kg per annum, depression was scored at 5.8%. In Japan, with a fish consumption of 68kg per annum, depression was 0.12%.
In the UK researchers administered EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) to 70 depressed patients for 12 weeks. Eicosapentaenoic acid is an omega-3 fatty acid. The patients, who had all previously tried conventional treatments such as Prozac, reported improvements with sadness, anxiety and sleeping problems.