As Mrs Beeton said, “Fish is held out to be one of the greatest luxuries of the table and not only necessary, but even indispensable at all dinners where there is any pretense of excellence or fashion.”

Not that I find time to entertain guests or hold a dinner party (and my house is never tidy enough!), but I love a good fish recipe and as Mrs Beeton may not have realized at the time, the multiple benefits they provide.

The richest sources of the fatty acids found in omega 3 oil are found in oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout and tuna.

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The important components of these fish are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), which are incorporated into our cell membranes.

These acids EPA and DHA have beneficial effects on blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammation, hormone function and weight management.

 omega 3 oil_2Hormone function

Menopausal women supplemented with omega 3 fats for 8 weeks resulted in a significant reduction in hot flushes. Daily supplementation is also reported to reduce the severity of menstrual symptoms.

Blood pressure

In a review of over seventy trials, supplementation with DHA and EPA reduced both diastolic and systolic blood pressure. The reduction in diastolic levels results from a daily dose of 2g (2000mg).

Cholesterol

There is some controversy over the benefits of omega 3 supplements on cholesterol levels and natural food sources of omega 3 will contain varying levels of both DHA and EPA. The omega 3 from fish is better absorbed than fish oil supplements and may therefore confer greater benefits on cardiovascular health.

That said, benefits aren’t necessarily without risk.

Important considerations are the origin, farmed or wild, and contaminants, such as mercury.

Recommendations are to consume a variety of fish species to minimize these risks. Fish oil supplements are purified to remove toxins. Supplements richer in EPA seem to have a better effect on overall cholesterol balance whereas DHA has the potential to raise LDL cholesterol levels.

Inflammation

EPA and DHA inhibit inflammatory pathways in the body. Animal studies have shown that omega 3 is beneficial in rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. A level of 2g a day is required for anti-inflammatory actions.

Weight management

In a study of 44 people, six weeks of supplementation with fish oil resulted in a significant increase in lean mass and a reduction in body fat.

DHA and EPA increase fat oxidation and enhance fat metabolism in the body.

1g capsules were given were each containing 400mg of EPA and 200mg of DHA, with a dosage 4g a day.

omega 3 oil_3This is just a short sample of the benefits of omega 3 and global guidelines differ in their recommendations. These range from eating fish once or twice a week to consuming at 1g of omega 3 every day.

To tempt you into eating more wonderful seafood, look out for Part 2 tomorrow. I’ve included some recipes… from my favourite restaurant on the Chesil coast in Dorset.

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References

1) Lucas. M.,, Asselin. G., Mérette. C., Poulin M. and Dodin. S. (2009) Effects of ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on hot flashes and quality of life among middle-aged women: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial.

2) Miller. P. E., Elswyk. M. V. and Alexander. D. D. (2014) Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid and Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials American Journal of hypertension

3) Calder. P. C. (2013) Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammatory processes: nutrition or pharmacology? British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology

4) Noreen. E. E., Sass. M. J.,, Crowe.M.L.,, Pabon.V. A.,Brandauer.J and Averill. L. K. (2010) Effects of supplemental fish oil on resting metabolic rate, body composition, and salivary cortisol in healthy adults Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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