Fish Oil: An Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid for a Healthy Heart and Immune System

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Why do I need essential fatty acids?

Fish Oil: An Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid for a Healthy Heart and Immune System

No matter what type of diet you follow, it's important to remember that not all fat is bad. In fact, some fats, namely essential fatty acids such as omega-3s from fish oil or flaxseed oil, are essential for good health. But the body doesn't produce these good fats on its own. You can get essential fatty acids from foods—salmon is quite high in them. But if you are trying to lose weight and watch your fat intake, or if you can't or don't eat fish, essential fatty acid supplements, such as fish oil capsules, can provide similar benefits.

In particular, omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that helps keep your heart healthy by lowering triglycerides, which are the chemical form of most fats in food and in the body. If your triglyceride levels are too high, you may be increasing your risk for heart disease, especially if you have a family history of heart problems.

But fish and fish oil are among the highest and most convenient sources of omega-3s. Strong scientific evidence shows that fish oil supplements with omega 3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA can lower triglycerides and they are considered safe for most people. Similarly, fish oil supplements may help keep LDL cholesterol (the unhealthy kind) low, and HDL cholesterol (the healthy kind) high.

Fish oil supplements come in many forms, including tables, liquid oil, and softgels, with concentrations ranging from 30% to as much as 70%. Recommended doses for EPA and DHA are about 1,000 mg daily, so choose a concentrated supplement if you prefer to take fewer pills.

   

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