Catch and Release: Fish Oil Benefits

A man is holding a fish oil supplement pill and a glass of water.You might have heard of the benefits of taking fish oil, which is packed with omega-3 fatty acids that your body cannot make on its own. If you want to add it to your diet, should you grab your bait bucket and pole, or shop for fresh fillets at the local market? Or are fish oil supplements a good substitute if you object to anything with a “fishy” taste?

It does matter where you get your fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids, which help with normal growth and development, inflammation and brain function, according to Harvard Medical School.

The medical school says eating fish is better than taking supplements, and it notes fatty fish like sardines, salmon and mackerel are good sources of two key omega-3s. Another good omega-3 is found in certain plants, and you can find these beneficial fatty acids in pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil and chia seeds.

There are claims that fish oil supplements can help your heart and brain and fight cancer, but the evidence isn’t clear cut, according to Men’s Health magazine, which like Harvard Medical School, recommends eating fish that is high in omega-3.

The magazine says “the average guy” should consume at least two servings of these fish every week – but you should prepare it in “a healthy way,” such as baking, poaching or steaming.

Men’s Health says these fish have the highest amount of omega-3 (per 3-ounce cooked fish):

  • Atlantic herring: 1,712 mg
  • Pacific mackerel: 1,571 mg
  • Chinook salmon: 1,476 mg
  • Wild coho salmon: 1,168 mg
  • Rainbow trout: 840 mg
  • Canned sardines: 835 mg
  • Wild swordfish: 764 mg

Talk to your health care provider for more details about fish oil and the potential health benefits of adding it to your diet.