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Tuesday October 03 2000
Eat Fish, Feel Better

By Lauren Long, From myprimetime.com

It turns out Grandma was on to something, pushing all that cod-liver oil.

At least nobody has to chase Harvard researchers around with a teaspoon of the stuff anymore. Earlier this year, they became so impressed by the health benefits of fish oil that they shut down their study on its effects.

"The benefits in the patients receiving the fatty acids were so pronounced that it would have been considered unethical to withhold treatment from those patients given a placebo," says Joy Nettleton, a Chicago nutritionist with a specialty in seafood.

The study looked at the affect of omega-3 essential fatty acids (found in certain cold-water fish) on people with manic-depression.

There has been a steady stream of research touting the lower risk of heart disease associated with a diet that includes fatty-fishes such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, bluefish, halibut and herring. But the connection between omega-3 fatty acids and mental health (omega-3's are highly concentrated in the brain) has created a new era of medical research.

Scientists have noticed low rates of depression in countries such as Japan that consume a lot of seafood. Researchers are now investigating any link between the decrease of omega-3 fatty acids in the American diet during the past century and our increasing rate of depression.

Omega-3 fatty acids appear to have both antidepressant and mood-stabilizing effects.

Scientists have found abnormally low levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the brains of people with depression.

"Promising research is emerging," says Nettleton. "That is not to say [fish oil] will solve your personality problems or get you a date, but it looks good so far."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises people to consume fish at least twice a week for the heart benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids. But if research continues to show the link between the acids and attitude, more Americans may choose to eat salmon as much for their heads as for their hearts.

Additional benefits of omega-3 fatty acids:

Lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Lowers blood pressure.

Acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, making it beneficial for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

May help in treating glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and diabetes.

May help prevent migraines, panic attacks and agoraphobia.

Some studies show it may help to prevent cancer.

Additional benefits of omega-3 fatty acids:

Lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Lowers blood pressure.

Acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, making it beneficial for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

May help in treating glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and diabetes.

May help prevent migraines, panic attacks and agoraphobia.

Some studies show it may help to prevent cancer.

Fish tips, according to the Alternative Medicine Encyclopedia.

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