If you’re currently taking Broga classes, or even contemplating signing up for your first one, you are already making progress toward improving your overall health. The next step may be to give some thought to your diet if total body wellness is a goal of yours. As you begin to contemplate your personal nutrition goals, you may at some point also begin to contemplate taking supplements. Buyer beware, be sure to stay current on your research. Shelling out big bucks on pills may be a waste of resources better spent on real food.
In spite of previous studies linking the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil pills to heart health, new research featured in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that taking fish oil supplements may in fact provide no significant cardio vascular benefits.
So are fish oil supplements still worth buying? Doesn’t it always seem like the news about nutrition is changing? One day something is good for you, and the next, not so much right?
Nutritional research is still fairly young, as medical research goes. We are still learning so much about how the body processes nutrients and which ones (and how much of them) it needs most.
Any medical research is complicated to decipher, but I think I got this one. It’s generally accepted in medical communities that omega-3 fatty acids play a role in heart health. We know that certain fish are known sources of omega-3s. If you connect the dots then, fish=heart health. Pretty simple stuff so far.
Fish oil supplementation has risen in popularity in the past few years because it was thought that we could isolate the good omega-3s from real fish, and put them in a pill. If people took these pills, it seemed logical that the increase in their diet in omega-3s would lead to healthier hearts. This logic wasn’t exactly wrong, but there is likely more to the story than we thought.
What this new information really means is that there may be more to fish that is good for your heart than just its omega-3s. The same fish that are rich in omega-3s are also rich in selenium and Vitamin D (among other things.) It is possible that omega-3s are most helpful to our cardiovascular health when consumed with other nutrients. Just like we know that calcium needs Vitamin D to be fully functional in our bodies, omega-3 fatty acids may be most beneficial when accompanied by other nutrients. Further research will need to be done to see if this is in fact the case.
So what’s your action item? If your doctor has suggested taking a fish oil supplement, I wouldn’t toss them in the trash because of one study’s findings. If you are concerned about heart health (and aren’t we all) try to increase your intake of omega-3 rich fish to at least 2-3 meals per week. Approachable fish rich in omega-3s are salmon, anchovies, and bluefish.
Your fish oil pills are not likely doing you any harm, and may still be doing some good, but it’s almost always best to get your nutrients from real foods when you can instead of supplements.
Consider your likes and dislikes and your current dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and try to add more. Don’t write off supplements in general, some do great things, but my advice is to look at them with healthy skepticism and always ask yourself if you can get what you are looking for from real food first.
What do you think? Do you have a post-workout favorite food? Maybe a smoothie recipe you’d be willing to share? Share your input in the comment section below!
Jennifer Jasmin is a nutritionist and freelance writer living in Watertown, Massachusetts. She holds a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College, and a Graduate Certificate in Dietetics from Simmons College. In her work, Jen strives to help people find balance between real nutrition facts, and realistic health and fitness goals. Her background also includes over 15 years working in the food service industry, which adds to her unique perspective on eating well. She shares her insights, personal cooking lessons, and recipe ideas on her blog at: www.skeletonsinmykitchen.com. In addition to writing, Jen shares her passion about healthy eating in casual, approachable nutrition seminars and workshops in both corporate and community settings. To Jen, the journey to wellness is incredibly personal, and should be approached in a way that is individual, actionable and unpretentious.