Research has shown that fish oils can also help smokers kick the habit. Fish oils contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Current medical advice is to eat two portions of fish a week, including one portion of oily fish such as tuna or mackerel. Omega-3s are also found in leafy vegetables, wholewheat bread and walnuts. So what can eating fish do for you?
A boost for brain power
Numerous trials have shown that they can improve the behaviour and learning of children with Attention Deficiency Disorder and learning disabilities. More recently, Dr Alex Richardson, at Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention, studied underperforming children aged seven to nine. After taking daily supplements for 16 weeks, their behaviour and reading improved.
But since it will be difficult to get children to eat enough fish, Omega 3 supplements are a reasonable option
Preventing a heart attack
Omega-3s are known to reduce the inflammation of the arteries which can lead to heart attacks, as well as being an anticoagulant that can improve blood flow. ‘There is also evidence that they can help in normalising irregular heart rhythms,’
Supplements are prescribed on the NHS to prevent heart-attack survivors from having a second attack
Improving your memory
A study published in the journal Neurology earlier this year found that a diet rich in omega-3s can increase volume of the part of the brain responsible for memory and protect against dementia. Omega-3s are also believed to reduce the formation of plaque in the brain, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s.
It is likely that omega-3s from diet alone may be enough to deliver benefits.
Beneficial to the eyes
Experiments carried out at Harvard University demonstrated that mice fed a diet high in omega-3s were less likely to suffer from retinal bleeding – the trigger for many cases of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the elderly. It may help protect against dry eye syndrome too.
If you eat the recommended amount of fish you should derive enough omega-3s from your diet.
Reducing the risk of miscarriage
Research has found that fish oils taken in pregnancy can reduce depressive symptoms in the mother, while other studies have shown that levels of fish and seafood consumed by pregnant women even have an effect on the child’s IQ. Meanwhile, a recent Australian study of pregnant rats also showed that a diet rich in omega-3s may reduce the risk of miscarriage by reducing inflammation of the placenta.
However, pregnant women are advised to limit – but not stop entirely – their consumption of oily fish because of the concern over certain toxins that the fish may have been exposed to in the sea. Some may feel a daily supplement is a safer way of achieving a beneficial dose,’ says dietician Lucy Jones, of the British Dietetic Association.