Can Omega-3's Help to Prevent Obesity?

Find out how Omega-3’s are increasingly being recognized for their health benefits

There’s been increasing focus recently on the role that omega-3’s play in health and disease. Preliminary studies show these polyunsaturated fatty acids found predominantly in fatty fish may reduce the risk of a variety of diseases ranging from heart disease to cancer. Now, a surprising new study shows that omega-3’s could also help to prevent obesity.

Omega-3’s to Prevent Obesity in Humans: A Study
In this study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers looked at the omega-3 consumption of 124 healthy participants of varying weights. Blood samples were taken to document blood levels of omega-3’s in all of participating individuals. The results were intriguing. The researchers found that levels of omega-3’s in the bloodstream correlated with participant’s body mass index, as well as with their waist and hip size. Participants with the highest blood levels of omega-3’s were found to have smaller waist and hip sizes, as well as a lower BMI.

Larger trials are needed to confirm these results, but if further studies support this research, the addition of fatty fish and other sources of omega-3’s to the diet could be a novel way to prevent obesity in peole who are fighting a difficult battle with weight control. Although adding more omega-3’s to the diet through food or supplementation is unlikely to replace exercise and healthy eating, it could be one more weapon in an overweight person’s weight loss arsenal.

How They Could Help
How might omega-3’s help to prevent obesity? Researchers have a variety of theories. Animal studies have shown that omega-3’s may subtly boost metabolism along with the rate at which fat is burned. It’s also theorized that omega-3’s could influence hormones involved in satiety and appetite control. Another possibility? Foods containing omega-3’s including fatty fish such as salmon tend to be filling and may reduce overall calorie consumption.

A study conducted by Australian researchers in 2007 showed that fish oil supplements combined with exercise reduced body fat by up to 1.5 kg. Other animal studies have also confirmed that omega-3’s could help to prevent obesity.

It may be premature to jump on the bandwagon and use omega-3’s specifically for weight loss; but omega-3’s offer so many additional health benefits that adding more to the diet is a positive for most people. This can be done naturally by eating fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, or by eating flaxseed and walnuts, both good vegetarian sources of omega-3’s. More foods such as eggs and orange juice are being fortified with omega-3’s although the amounts may not be high enough to have a significant impact on health or weight. There’s also the option of taking omega-3’s in supplement form. Before taking supplements, consult a doctor since omega-3’s can be dangerous for people taking blood thinners.

Omega-3’s to Prevent Obesity
Omega-3’s have a variety of health benefits and may even be beneficial for losing weight, although nothing is likely to replace healthy eating and a good exercise plan.

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