Fish oil, as you might guess, is oil from fatty fish. Because many people do not eat much fish (and because fish is recommended as part of a heart-healthy diet), these supplements have become very popular in recent years. Fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids
and may help to lower triglycerides
. It may have numerous other health benefits as well.
It is thought that omega-3
fatty acids are the active compounds in fish oil. These fatty acids in fish oil include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid
). These omega-3 fatty acids have various effects on the body, such as:
- Decreasing inflammation -- Omega-3 fatty acids seem to decrease inflammation in the body by suppressing a specific enzyme (COX-2) and inflammatory chemicals, such as interleukin-1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF).
- Lowering triglycerides -- Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglyceride levels.
- Lowering blood pressure and preventing blood clots -- Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the production of a chemical called thromboxane A2. This chemical causes blood platelets to stick together (which encourages blood clots) and increases blood pressure. Because omega-3 fatty acids decrease thromboxane A2, they can "thin" the blood (perhaps preventing blood clots) and lower blood pressure.
These are just a few of the benefits that researchers think fish oil may have on the body. As more studies are done, more information about how it works will become available.