The innumerable health benefits of omega-3s are by now well known. Blackmores Director of Education Pam Stone looks at how fish can support the health of our eyes, heart and brain as we get older.
Looking for the elixir of youth? That might be a tall order – but oils from fish could well be your nearest equivalent.
Fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-3s are important components of cell membranes.
Cell membranes that incorporate fats derived from omega-3s function better than those made up of saturated or trans fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also incorporated into compounds called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins that contain these fatty acids play a role in immune function. They also help regulate inflammation and maintain aspects of cardiovascular health.
In simple terms, this all means that omega-3s play an important role in supporting the health of your heart, immune system and general wellbeing.
A 2008 US study1 found that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, combined with a supplement for age-related eye disease (AREDS) and a lower glycemic index diet, may slow down the progression of age related macular degeneration (AMD).
The researchers said their results may suggest increasing levels of omega-3 fatty acids would enhance prevention of advanced AMD.
A healthier ticker
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of Australia’s largest health problems and remains the leading cause of death in Australia.
Fish consumption is an important part of risk reduction for CVD. Omega-3s help to maintain healthy heart rates, blood pressure and help to support a healthy heart.
Healthy brains contain high amounts of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA.
A study in Norway looked at the relationship between intake of fish and fish products, and cognitive performance in the elderly.
The researchers reported that those who consumed at least 10 grams of fish a day performed significantly better in tests for cognitive performance than subjects who ate less than 10 grams of fish and fish products.
How much fish should we eat?
Aim to eat two to three serves of oily fish per week to maintain good health. Oily fish include salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, tuna, anchovies and pilchards. If you don’t eat fish you may wish to supplement with fish oil.
1 C-J Chiu, R Klein, RC Milton, G Gensler, A Taylor “Does eating particular diets alter risk of age-related macular degeneration in users of the age-related eye disease study supplements?”
2 Australia’s Favourite Fish Oil as voted in the Pure Profile Fish Oil Poll January 2011.
One in three Australians don’t eat enough fish? Fish contains essential omega-3 fatty acids which can help with brain and heart health. Supplementing your diet with fish oil can redress the balance. For more information on Australia’s favourite fish oil brand2 visit www.blackmores.com.au