The Benefits of Fish Oil

Finally, researchers have found a way to counteract the dangerous side effects of dirty air pollution.

By Emily Main

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Fish oil benefits include ridding your body of toxinsDirty air is bad for everyone. Linked to higher risks of heart attacks and strokes in adults, air pollution from highways, industrial factories, and wood smoke has even been found to cause behavioral problems in children born to mothers with high exposure.

Most of the time, the only way to counteract the damage that particulate matter can do to your heart and brain is to move away from it—not always a practical solution. Now, scientists have found that omega-3 fish oils can fight damage caused by dirty air.

In a new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers from the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute for Environmental Health Scientists gave 29 healthy middle-aged adults either omega-3 fish oil supplements or a placebo of olive oil supplements. After four weeks of supplementation, the test subjects were placed in enclosed chambers for two hours while being exposed to pollution levels similar to those you might be exposed to in an average urban environment. Their blood was tested before and after the exposure.

After exposure to pollution, the people on fish oil supplements experienced much lower heart rate variability, a marker for cardiovascular damage, and other markers of cardiac distress, than the people taking olive oil supplements. At the same time, although both groups had similar LDL (bad) cholesterol and lipid (blood fat) levels before exposure, those levels spiked in the olive oil group but remained steady in the fish oil group.

The effects of air pollution on heart health have become so pervasive that an entire medical field, called environmental cardiology, has cropped up to treat them. And most environmental cardiologists previously believed that the best way to protect against the damages of air pollution was to ward off heart disease entirely, for instance, eating healthfully, eliminating cigarettes, and exercising to reduce both weight and stress levels. This study shows that adding fish oil supplements to that list will help keep you from succumbing to air-pollution-induced heart problems.

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