Fish oil pills are commonly used as dietary supplements and credited with a host of health benefits, some of which have more scientific backing than others. The latest scientific finding about this rich source of essential omega-3 fatty acids is especially exciting. Researchers have discovered that fish oil supplements can actually reverse the effects of a high-fat diet.
Dr. Andrew Weil explains that fish oil is typically found in the fatty tissues of cold water, oily fish. Those who eat little or no fish can take the supplements. The problem with omega-3, Weil adds, is that our bodies cannot make them. When we eat high-fat diets and don’t take in enough omega-3 it can lead to inflammation and increase our risk for developing several diseases.
A high-fat diet can also lead to insulin resistance, weight gain and increased cholesterol, which opens the door to obesity and Type 2 diabetes. This new research has shown that consuming fish oil can prevent and even counter the negative effects of a high-fat diet.
The researchers fed mice that had been administered fish oil a high-fat diet for four weeks. They collected and analyzed their body fat samples and compared them with those of mice on a high-fat diet that had not been consuming fish oil. Factors that affect metabolism, fat deposits and insulin resistance were measured.
“Our research suggests that fish oil supplements may be used in addition to other strategies as a preventative measure for insulin resistance and obesity,” said Professor Maria Isabel Alonso-Vale, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the Federal University of São Paulo and lead investigator of the study. “However, it is important to note that this research has been performed in mice which may not translate to humans. More research will need to be done so we can have a better understanding of the effect of fish oil in humans.”
The study’s findings were published in the Journal of Physiology.