Omega-3 fats decrease the risk of irregular heartbeats that can trigger a heart attack. Also, by reducing the stickiness of your blood, they cut the risk of forming blood clots that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. They also lower triglycerides, plaque buildup on artery walls and arterial inflammation—essential for keeping heart disease at bay.
Feed your brain Omega-3s are especially abundant in the brain and appear crucial for optimal brain functioning. They may significantly lower your risk of depression, including postpartum depression, and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Fight cancer Preliminary research suggests these fats inhibit abnormal cell growth and reduce the risk of breast, lung and colon cancers.
Combat inflammation Fish-oil capsules are also used to treat inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.
The best reason to eat fish as opposed to just popping a fish-oil pill is all the other good stuff it contains. Higher-fat fish is rich in protein and nutrients, such as niacin, selenium and vitamins B12 and D. Don’t like the taste? Experiment with new recipes that include spices you enjoy or order fish when you dine out. Many restaurants make a wicked grilled salmon. Steer clear of battered deep-fried fish, which may contain unhealthy trans fat.
If you’re concerned about eating fish due to contaminants such as mercury and PCBs, limit your intake to two servings per week. Avoid high-mercury fish such as shark, swordfish and tuna steaks, especially if you are pregnant or nursing.
If you simply can’t stomach fish, I recommend taking a one-gram fish-oil capsule twice a week. If you have heart disease, though, the American Heart Association suggests taking a one-gram fish-oil pill every day. (The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada also supports these guidelines.) Keep this in mind when choosing a fish-oil supplement: