Most people have heard about fish oil benefits or the helpful omega-3s it contains. But are the rumors really true? Read on to learn how these omega-3s can help your heart, your brain, your joints, and your gut.
Fish Oil Benefits in a Nutshell
- Reduces triglyceride levels and improves heart health
- Essential in child brain development
- Delays and reduces brain degeneration
- Relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
- Reduces intestinal inflammation
- Has mild side effects
Lowers Triglyceride Levels and Improves Heart Health
Triglycerides are lipids (fats) in your blood. Put simply, these are calories your body didn’t use right away that have been stored in your fat cells. Hormones release triglycerides into your body between meals. However, having high levels of triglyceride levels can be dangerous. They may contribute to hardened arteries or thickening of artery walls, which increases the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. High triglyceride levels can also cause inflammation of the pancreas.
Thankfully, Omega-3s lower triglyceride levels. There is also some evidence that omega-3s can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. By helping to counter these risk factors, taking omega-3s can lower your risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.    
Boosts Brain Health From Developing to Aging
The brain is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (or PUFAs). They are abundant in the cell membranes and facilitate communication between brain cells. In addition, omega-3s also have anti-inflammatory properties protect the brain. It’s no surprise that omega-3s are essential in child brain development and in preventing mental decline.  
Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should include omega-3s in their diet because it plays such an important role in the infant’s brain development. The fetus and placenta are dependent on essential fatty acid supply from the mother. Additionally, one study showed that infants who were fed omega-3s scored higher in mental and psychomotor development tests. 
As we age, fatty acid production declines. Disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease show that there is a decrease in fatty acids in brain cell membranes. A diet that includes fatty acids like omega-3 is increasing shown to delay or reduce the effects of brain degeneration. 
Relieves Symptoms of Arthritis
Though fish oil should not replace traditional medical treatment, taking fish oil can be helpful in relieving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. This is mainly because it acts as a natural anti-inflammatory.
It has been shown to have a moderately decreased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. However, its affects seem to be more focused on treating those who already have joint pain.
One study examined three groups, two of which were given fish oil fatty acids (3 grams / day). The two groups with fish oil showed a decrease in joint pain intensity and fatigue. They showed improvements in hand grip strength and their ability to bend down and pick up clothing from the floor and getting in and out of a car. The third group took fish oil with olive oil and showed even more improvement in morning stiffness and their ability to turn faucets on and off. 
Reduces Intestinal Inflammation
Fish oil has been known to decrease damage to the colon and inflammation in the intestines. In one study, researchers gave patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disorder ?? omega-3 supplements. They found that Omega-3s modify mediators–a substance released from the cells that, in this case, cause inflammation in the intestines.  Similar to studies on joint pain, one study researched the effects of the combination of fish oil and olive oil. The study showed that the combination of the two was the most potent. Consider including olive oil and fish oil in your diet if you are experiencing intestinal inflammation. 
Side Effects and Risk Factors
Fish oil is recognized and generally safe and has minimal side effects. Some reported side effects include:
- Bitter after-taste
- Bad breath
Risk factors you should be aware of:
- Fish oil is a natural blood thinner. If you are taking a blood-thinning medication, talk to your doctor before taking fish oil as a supplement.
- Do not take fish oil if you have a seafood allergy.
The Bottom Line
Fish oil, with its helpful fatty acid omega-3, is brimming with benefits. It can lower triglyceride levels in your blood and lower your risk of heart disease. It is essential in infant brain development and helps you maintain your brain health at every age. And it can also benefit your joints and your gut by reducing inflammation. Always feel free to talk to your doctor, especially if you have other health concerns or are on any medications. Omega-3 could be just the natural supplement you are looking for to improve your quality of life.