It's official: FDA is finally singing the praises of omega-3 fatty acids. In Sept. 2004, the agency approved a qualified health claim allowing any conventional food containing at least 125mg per serving of two long-chain polyunsaturated omega-3s, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Food that have these and that are low in fat, saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol can state on the package: "Supportive but not conclusive research show that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids might reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."
Enter coldwater fatty fish. About 30% of the fat in wild Coho and Atlantic salmon, lake trout, sardines, mackerel, albacore tuna, herring, and anchovies, and similar species in stored as EPA and DHA.
Eicosapentaenoic ACID and Docosahexaenoic ACID
The Family: Omega-3
Short Name: EPA an DHA
The richest sources include:
These two fatty acids are responsible for the beneficial effects of fish oils. EPA produces eicosanoids that help cardiovascular function in the body and DHA benefits all things relating to the brain and central nervous system.
Eicosanoids are powerful hormone-like compounds produced from EFAs, which control numerous body processes (e.g., inflammation, blood clotting, blood pressure, immune response).
Research demonstrates that fish oils containing EPA/DHA have therapeutic benefits in areas including: blood triglycerides, blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmic, infant brain development, cancer, and depression, ADHD.
Include 2-3 servings of these fatty fish weekly or take fish oil supplements.
Q. What is the difference between “pure” and blended fish oil products?
A. Some fish oil are labeled as pure fish oil 18/12, making your believe you are getting a pure product at the level of EPA & DHA stated. However, what needs to be understood is that each fish oil source contains different levels of natural EPA & DHA. For example, what is meant by 18/12 is that 18% of the oil is EPA, and 12% of the oil is DHA. This is expressed in the ratio of EPA & DHA. The only fish oil products that will result in a natural level of 18/12 are a blend of mackerel, sardines and anchovies.
Q. Will the omega-3 in fish oil lower my cholesterol?
A. Fish oil does contain cholesterol. But fish oil also contains the omega-3 essential fatty acids (the ‘good fats’) that your body needs daily to carry out numerous bodily processes.
Research has repeatedly proven fish oil provides cardiac and circulatory benefits and that fish oil is even helpful in managing triglyceride levels and good and bad cholesterol levels. Fish oils are natural blood thinners that help the blood circulate with ease and maintain arterial wall integrity.
Q. What is the Vitamin A & D content of fish oil?
A. Vitamins A & D are found principally in fish ‘liver’ oils. Fish oil derived from the bodies of fish, such as sardines and anchovies may contain trace amounts of Vitamins A and D, but there levels are too low to be detected or listed on the label.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oils are known to provide a range of health benefits, may help protect against the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, U.S. researchers report.
Tests on mice showed that a diet high in one particular omega-3 fatty acid called DHA helped protect the brain against the memory loss and cell damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
A diet rich in DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, dramatically reduces the impact of an Alzheimer’s gene.
Writing in the journal Neuron, Dr. Cole and colleagues said they studied mice bred to have genetic mutations that cause brain lesions associated with Alzheimer’s disease. They noticed the mice, which were on a diet rich, and fish oils didn’t have the expected memory loss or brain damage. The connections between brain cells weren’t as damaged as would be expected. That changed after the diets were altered.