Food wise Spain was heaven for me, also because of the enormous fresh fish section at all grocery stores. Without spending crazy amounts of money (research does not pay great ;-)) I was able to buy fresh salmon, shrimps and all other fish I could imagine. Besides being delicious, fish contains important Omega-3 fatty acids. In this blog I will discuss the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Fish and Cardiovascular disease
The most important omega-3 fatty acids are the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids: DHA and EPA. DHA and EPA are almost exclusively present in fish and other sea-derived foods. Several large studies show that both fish consumption and fish oil (DHA and EPA) supplementation decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. The magnitude of this effect is being discussed, but almost all researchers agree that there is a beneficial effect.
Other health benefits
The effect on cardiovascular disease might be the most famous, but DHA and EPA have beneficial effects on a whole scale of health conditions. During pregnancy fish oil intake is essential for proper foetus development and linked to a decrease in incidences of allergies in the child. Furthermore, DHA and EPA supplementation in very early stages of Alzheimer Disease has shown to slow down the progress of the disease. Lastly, DHA and EPA intake could have a role in the prevention and treatment of obesity and depression.
What do I do?
I try to eat fish on a regular bases, if possible twice a week. About half of the times I choose a fatty fish (salmon, herring, sardines etc.). Fish is a relatively lean source of protein, so it has multiple benefits. Eating food is in my opinion always better than taking supplements. Fish does not only provide DHA, EPA and protein, but also other nutrients and bioactive compounds.
However, to be completely honest, sometimes I have trouble with eating enough fish. In Spain it was much easier for me compared to the Netherlands, especially since I am only in the Netherlands for a short period of time and not eating regularly. In these periods supplementation is ideal for me. I pay attention that the supplement contains only omega-3 fatty acids (so no omega 3-6-9, there is no need to take the others) and has defined concentrations of DHA and EPA on the label.
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