EPA

  1. How fish oil can stop oxidative stress

    Omega-3 protects the brain

    Aging gets a lot of bad press, but the real reason seniors have a higher disease risk isn't time alone.

    It's the oxidative stress that comes along with it.

    That's why it's so important to make sure you're getting sufficient levels of antioxidant nutrients as you get older. But don't stop there -- because while the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil generally aren't considered antioxidants, they can also help prevent or even reverse the damage caused by oxidative stress.

    And that's especially true in the brain.

    In one new study, seniors with the highest intakes of DHA and EPA had the lowest levels of lipid hydroperoxide, or LPO.

    OK, there's a lot of letters in that alphabet soup, so let me sort them out for you.

    DHA and EPA are, of course, two of the most essential omega-3s -- and the two main fatty acids you'll find in a quality fish oil supplement.

    LPO is less familiar to most people, but it's a common marker of oxidative stress in the brain. You want as little as possible, and the new study shows why: It increases the risk of cognitive impairment -- specifically, problems with global cognitive function, short-term memory, learning, and attention.

    High levels of omega-3s, on the other hand, can do just the opposite, protecting overall cognitive function as well as short-term memory, attention spans, and recall, according to the study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

    The researchers believe DHA in particular helps the body to produce the enzymes needed to fight oxidative stress damage in the brain.

    And that may be part of it.

    But we also know from other studies that omega-3 fatty acids protect the brain in a number of other ways, both directly and indirectly. Indirectly, they help with heart health and overall circulation -- and good circulation is critical to brain function.

    More directly, the brain itself thrives on omega-3 fatty acids -- which is why fish oil has been shown to help protect and improve memory, mood, and more even in healthy people.

    (Did you know that fish oil has been shown to help seniors beat the blues? Click here to read all about it.)

    Be sure to look for a quality supplement that has been purified to remove contaminants such as mercury.

  2. Chia seed is rich in the essential fatty acid ALA

    The surprising source of an essential fatty acid

    With fish oil now the nation's best-selling nutritional supplement, it seems like most people have gotten the message about omega-3 fatty acids.

    Too bad the message is incomplete.

    Along with the EPA and DHA found in fish oil, there's another essential fatty acid your body needs -- one it can't make on its own. It's called alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, and a new small study finds a surprisingly good source of it:

    Ch-ch-ch-ch-chia!

    You probably remember those old commercials for Chia Pets, the terra cotta animals with fuzzy heads of grassy "hair." Now, researchers say the same seeds used to grow that hair can also raise levels of ALA and EPA, at least in older women.

    In the study of 10 normal-weight postmenopausal women with an average age of 55, 25 grams of chia seeds a day for seven weeks increased blood levels of ALA by 138 percent.

    That's impressive, even if most people don't realize that ALA plays a key role in controlling the body's inflammation levels -- which means it can help protect the heart and brain and even cut your risk of autoimmune disorders.

    In addition, your body can convert ALA into the other omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, although that wasn't quite seen in the new study. While levels of EPA rose by 30 percent, levels of DHA actually fell slightly.

    In other words, chia seed isn't going to replace your fish oil -- but if this holds up to more research, you might want to take it with your fish oil.

    Some people might even want to add it now, but not necessarily for that ALA. Chia seed is an excellent source of fiber, and I've recommended it for years for constipation relief as well as overall regularity.

    But if your digestion is normal and you want a more proven source of ALA, I recommend walnuts, olive oil, flaxseed, pumpkinseeds and leafy green vegetables.

    The only downside is you can't use them to grow "hair" on little terra cotta statuettes.

  3. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can slash cancer risk

    There's another great reason to eat more seafood as the latest research shows how the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can slash your risk of cancer.
  4. The real secret to saving your eyes

    At some point in the next month, the feds are expected to approve a new drug to help treat macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in seniors.
  5. Omega-3s may slash diabetes risk

    Some fats, like omega-3 fatty acids, can actually protect your heart -- and two new studies confirm yet again that these essential oils can slash your diabetes risk.

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