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Take omega-3 fish oil supplements every day for health benefits. Here's what you need to know
Ryan Aliapoulios

As you may have heard before, not all fat is created equal. While it’s true that too much of certain fats can lead to serious health risks, there is a special group of fats that are not off-limits. We’re talking about a special group of molecules commonly called omega-3s or omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty molecules are available from both plant and animal sources and come in three different varieties:

  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
  • Alpha-linoleic Acid (ALA)

EPA and DHA come from animals—all kinds of fish are a great source—whereas ALA comes from plant matter including flaxseed and hemp. All three serve different purposes and have slightly different effects on the body and mind, though there are a lot of good reasons to start working them into your diet. While the list below is hardly exhaustive, here are 10 of them:

1) Improved heart health.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, omega-3s have been shown to reduce the risk of arrhythmia, among other potential benefits. Don’t take it from us though—see what the American Heart Association has to say on the matter.

2) Reduced pain from osteoarthritis.

This one is admittedly a little more specific, but osteoarthritis is a fairly common condition where the degeneration of our joints causes us stiffness and pain. Fortunately, these fatty little molecules may be able to slow that process. While more studies are needed, preliminary research seems promising.

3) Increased lifespan.

Studies have shown that fish oil may have the ability to lengthen our telomeres, a part of our DNA which protects the ends of our chromosomes. In a sense, they are the “caps” on the end of chromosomes which protect them and keep their information intact so that cell division can continue (and we can keep living). For a longer read on this, a recent article from The Atlantic has a pretty good take.


4) Improved cognition.

It’s pretty obvious why this one would be beneficial—who doesn’t want their brain to run more smoothly and efficiently? While the specific effects omega-3s have on our minds remains a somewhat open question, this study showed that the brains of subjects who supplemented with DHA and EPA worked “less hard” with better performance on the tasks performed. Sign us up!

5) Better bone health.

Related to preventing osteoarthritis, omega-3s also show promise for those looking to prevent osteoporosis as well. Though we usually think of calcium and vitamin D as the pillars of bone health, these fatty acids also play an important and complex role. For a more thorough explanation, check out The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition for their take.

6) Prevention of depression and anxiety.

While the exact science on omega-3s and depression or anxiety isn’t yet written in stone, studies show that supplementing with these molecules was better than placebo at helping people with depressive symptoms. For a more thorough explanation, here’s a review of three studies on the subject.


7) Lower triglycerides and blood pressure.

Triglycerides are an important part of our health but in excess can lead to plaque, clogged arteries and other heart-related health problems. Fortunately, omega-3s show promise in mediating these problems—here’s a study backing that up.

8) Decreased risk of stroke.

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut off for whatever reason. When they happen, the results can be severe for everyone involved. Again, this is where omega-3s come in: having the proper amount of these fatty acids in your diet can reduce the risk of stroke significantly. Here’s the study.

9) Improvement in ADHD symptoms.

In a randomized, double-blind study done on children, omega-3s were shown to have a positive effect for subjects who had trouble focusing (among other benefits). Who knew that diet had such an impact on our brains? Read for yourself here.

10) Prevention of long-term cognitive decline.

A major fear some of us have about old age is that our brains will stop working like they used to, whether that takes the form of dementia or Alzheimers disease. The brain is fatty organ, and making sure it gets fed with plenty of omega-3s seems to help guard against these diseases. Here’s to long life!


These life-saving little molecules can be found in tons of different food sources, some of which include fish (salmon, sardines, anchovies, tuna), seeds (chia, flax and hemp), walnuts and natto. They’re even in certain leafy greens like brussel sprouts, kale, spinach and watercress.

As a final note: be sure not to confuse omega-3-s with omega-6s (found in vegetable oil and commercial snack foods). The latter have been known to cause inflammation and other health issues, so be warned. Happy eating!

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