CAT | Heart Health
Fish oils have been in the news a lot lately because of their many health benefits. In a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists from the University of Reading in the UK reported that fish-derived Omega-3s were shown to help protect the blood vessels surrounding the heart and may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.‡
While the American Heart Association and other experts recommend eating oily fish at least twice weekly (mainly those low in mercury such as salmon, sardines, and herring) some people find this difficult, either because they don’t cook fish regularly or because they don’t like the taste. Purified fish oil supplements may provide a convenient and healthful alternative.‡ When choosing a fish oil supplement, be sure to pay attention to the following key features:
- High potency: Look at how much Omega-3 is in each softgel—not how much fish oil. Choose a supplement that contains at least 1,000 mg Omega-3 per softgel.
- Purity: Look for the IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards™) seal to ensure your fish oil exceeds published international standards for the lowest levels of toxins.
- Freshness: Opt for a supplement packaged in a dark-colored glass bottle designed to protect the oils from light and moisture.
- Enteric coating: Enteric coated softgels help deliver the healthy Omega-3s directly to the intestines where they are absorbed. Lipase (an enzyme) may also be added to help with digestion of the oils.
In addition to their extensively studied heart health benefits*, Omega-3 essential fatty acids from fish—including EPA and DHA—have been shown to support brain, eye, and joint health as well as promote healthy immune function and mood.‡
Curious about how much fish oil you should take and when? Click here for answers!
*Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA & DHA Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
Aside from the added sugars and harmful trans fats, scientists from the Institute for Biomedical Services at Georgia State University have found yet another reason to avoid processed foods: common food additives called emulsifiers.
Emulsifiers are used to improve texture and shelf life in a variety of food products from ice cream to salad dressing, but results of a new study involving mice reveal a not-so-appetizing downside. In a nutshell, they may be changing our gut bacteria in a way that promotes inflammation—resulting in an increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), metabolic syndrome and obesity.
For the study, some of the mice were given a human-equivalent dose of two common emulsifiers used in processed foods (polysorbate 80 and carboxymethylcellulsose), while the others were fed a placebo. Afterward, researchers noted significant changes in the gut bacteria of the mice who received the emulsifiers. The altered bacteria were able to penetrate the intestinal lining and activate certain proteins that trigger an inflammatory response in the body. The results ranged from mild intestinal inflammation to chronic colitis, weight gain and metabolic syndrome.
According to study authors, cases of IBD and metabolic syndrome have risen dramatically since around the 1950s—about the time processed foods became extremely popular. They believe dietary changes may be a key factor, pointing out that food interacts “intimately” with our unique gut bacterial colonies, and the addition of chemicals such as emulsifiers may be causing a rise in inflammatory diseases.