We’ll admit it: We’re in love with omega-3 fatty acids. They’re the Renaissance men of the modern diet, working hard all over our bodies to keep our arteries healthy, make sure our brains are thinking clearly, and much, much more. Not to mention that they seem to sneak their way in to some of the tastiest foods around (avocado, wild caught fish, and almonds, anyone?).
A few recent studies have highlighted the bold benefits of these healthy fats, and three awesome sources that are easy to work into any diet.
1. FISH OIL SUPPLEMENTS
Fish oil is the tried-and-true way to get your daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids. As long as your supplement is high quality and sporting a healthy balance of DHA and EPA, fish oil is a no-brainer addition to any healthy diet. In addition to its brain-boosting, heart-supporting, and mood-improving benefits, two new research studies have shown that omega-3s hold big potential for the elderly and athletes alike.
- The first study aimed to uncover the role of omega-3s from fish oil in supporting strength training. Researchers assigned 45 women with an average age of 64 to one of three groups: strength training for 90 days without fish oil, strength training for 90 days with 2g of fish oil per day, or 2g per day of fish oil for 60 days, followed by 90 days of strength training and simultaneous supplement use. At the end of the study, researchers found that immune health parameters (including T cell counts) increased in both groups using fish oil supplements, while strength training alone did not enhance immune function. These findings suggest that omega-3 supplementation, when combined with exercise, may help elderly people restore immunity to prevent infection and support a healthy inflammatory response.
- The second study actually used a seal oil-derived omega-3 supplement to test the effects of these fatty acids on muscle fatigue in athletes. The study recruited 30 male athletes in their mid-twenties who were training an average of 17 hours per week. After receiving the seal-oil supplement for three weeks, athletes in the test group experienced a significant 20% increase in thigh muscle function compared to placebo. Additionally, 50% of men in the supplement group improved their time trials, compared to just 33% in the placebo group. This is the first study to date on the effects of omega-3s on both neuromuscular function and athletic performance.
2. FLAX SEED OIL
Flax seed oil, along with its ally avocado oil, has gained popularity in recent years as savvy folks switch from processed cooking oils high in inflammatory omega-6s to ones rich in healthy omega-3s. A great source of omega-3s, flax seed oil, which can be found in supplement form, supports supple joints, happy moods, and cardiovascular health.
- A recent meta-analysis of 15 clinical trials with data from 1,302 participants determined that flax seed supplements hold the potential to significantly reduce blood pressure. Researchers cited an average drop of 2.85mmHg in systolic and 2.39mmHg in diastolic blood pressure in flax seed supplement users. When used for more than 12 weeks, decreases were even more significant. These findings are exciting for hypertensive patients, as decreases at these intervals have been associated with a 22% decline in cardiovascular mortality risk.
3. SALMON OIL
Last but not least, we’re looking at a category of fish oil, salmon oil! Salmon is known to be one of the healthiest fish on the menu because of its high omega-3 count, but did you also know it has been found to help reduce oxidative stress?
- Researchers recruited 160 healthy adults with an average age of 59.3 and placed them in one of four groups: placebo, 3g salmon oil plus a multivitamin, 6g of salmon oil plus a multivitamin, or 6g of salmon oil with no multivitamin. At the end of the 16-week trial, subjects in the two 6g salmon oil groups experienced improvements in aortic blood pressure and stiffness, as well as decreases in F2-isoprostane levels (a marker of oxidative stress).