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September 2014

Can Fish Oils Keep You Young?

Fish is considered part of a healthy diet and consuming fish is one of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  Health benefits have been linked to fish oils for some time, including reducing risks of heart disease, cognitive decline and inflammation.  Recent studies suggest it may also slow aging, especially if you are age 65 or older.         

What is So Special About Fish Oils?
Fish contains omega 3-fatty acids EPA and DHA.  These are polyunsaturated fatty acids and are key protective nutrients associated with the health benefits of eating fish.
  
EPA and DHA may help reduce triglycerides, blood pressure, inflammation, and may thin the blood.  Recently, studies revealed individuals with higher blood levels of omega 3s may reduce cellular aging and promote longevity.
  
Tips to Adding Fish Oil to Your Diet
It is best to eat fish instead of taking supplements. Fish is readily available as fresh, frozen or canned.  Select whatever is most convenient and affordable for you.  If using canned (sardines, tuna, salmon, herring) try to purchase “reduced sodium” or rinse it off.  Here are some ideas for getting omega-3s in your diet:

  • Make a light tuna or salmon salad with fat-free yogurt, celery, onion and lemon.  Top on a bed of assorted salad greens or make a sandwich with whole grain bread and tomato.
  • Simply grill or bake fish, top with fresh or dried herbs and lemon.  Leftovers can top a salad the next day or you can even use them for fish tacos.
  • Use fish in pasta dishes instead of chicken.
  • Add sardines to a salad or have with crackers and a side salad.
  • Try salmon patties or fish cakes instead of a burger.
  • When dining out select a healthy fish entrée, one that is not breaded or fried.

Getting Your OMEGA-3s
Cold water fatty fish contain the most omega-3 fatty acids.  The fish listed below are excellent sources of these healthy fatty acids:

  • Bluefish
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Striped Bass
  • Swordfish
  • Trout
  • Tuna—Albacore

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week, especially those high in omega-3s.  A serving is equal to approximately 3.5 ounces cooked or a little bit larger than the size of a deck of playing cards.  Select a variety of species of fish, especially the ones that are listed above.

The Bottom Line
Fish oils may not be the fountain of youth, but can offer many health benefits.  It is best to follow recommendations from the American Heart Association and current Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  Include a variety of fish at least twice a week.  Focus on omega-3 rich fish instead of fish oil supplements which may not offer all of the health benefits.  Fish should be baked, broiled or grilled instead of fried and heavily battered for maximum health benefits.  If you are allergic to fish or do not eat fish, supplements may be beneficial.  Check with your health care professional.


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