Salmon may not top the list of your favorite foods, but adding more of this fatty fish to your diet could work in your favor if you’re a guy. Salmon is a fatty fish that contains a type of fat you need more of – omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s have health benefits that are too good to ignore. Here’s what you can expect when you put a serving of salmon on your plate.
Can Omega-3s Boost Your Fertility?
DHA and EPA are two omega-3 fatty acids found naturally in salmon and other fatty fish such as mackerel, tuna, lake trout, herring and sardines. According to a study published in the Journal of Lipid Research, DHA boosts fertility in male mice and improves the quality of their sperm so they can swim faster. Of course, humans are a little higher on the food chain than mice, but humans can benefit too. Another study showed that infertile men had lower levels of DHA in their sperm. More research is needed, but it’s a good reason to add fish to the dinner table.
Lower Your Risk of Prostate Cancer
One in six men is destined to get prostate cancer during their lifetime, and the omega-3 fats in fish may offer some protection against this common form of cancer. In a study published in Clinical Cancer Research, researchers found that men with the highest levels of omega-3 in their blood had 60% lower odds of getting prostate cancer. How does it work its magic? Omega-3s reduce inflammation by blocking the action of an enzyme called Cox-2 that fuels the growth of prostate tumors. A few servings of wild salmon a week may be enough to keep your prostate squeaky clean and free of rogue cancer cells.
Keep Your Ticker Healthy
Once you ward off prostate cancer, you have to worry about keeping your heart healthy. Omega-3s have you covered there too. Their natural anti-inflammatory properties reduce inflammation inside arteries that can trigger a heart attack. They also lower triglyceride levels and blood pressure and keep platelets from clumping together to form a blood clot. High triglycerides and blood pressure are both risk factors for heart disease. Considering heart disease is the number one cause of death in this country, it pays to get your omega-3s.
Protect Your Gray Matter
The omega-3 DHA helps to keep your brain healthy too. These good fats are an important component of the membranes that surround brain cells and allow them to communicate with one another. There’s even evidence that omega-3s help to control mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Even if you’re not clinically depressed, there’s still good reason to get more omega-3s. Low levels have been linked with memory problems, bipolar disorder, ADHD and learning difficulties. The omega-3s may even help to ward off age-related memory problems and prevent those “senior moments” that people experience as they age. Fish really is brain food.
How to Get Your Omega-3s
Two servings of wild caught salmon weekly should provide you with the omega-3s you need. If you’re at high risk for heart disease or have elevated triglyceride levels, you may benefit from as much as 3,000 milligrams a day, but talk to your doctor first since you’ll need an omega-3 or fish oil supplement to get this amount. Don’t take an omega-3 supplement if you’re on aspirin or blood thinners.
The problem with getting omega-3s naturally from seafood is some fish contain mercury and other toxins. That’s why wild salmon is a good choice since it has more omega-3s than farm-raised salmon and fewer impurities. Smaller fish such as sardines are good choices because they’re usually low in mercury.
Some people will tell you to get omega-3s by eating walnuts and flaxseed. These foods contain alpha-linolenic-acid, a compound that’s converted to the omega-3 DHA. Unfortunately, this conversion isn’t very efficient, which means you may not get the full benefits. Also, don’t fall for products like mayonnaise, margarines, orange juice and cereals that are fortified with omega-3 fats. They usually contain quantities of omega-3 that are too small to have much benefit.
The Bottom Line?
Put omega-3 fats from fatty fish on your list of foods to eat or talk to your doctor about taking a fish oil supplement. Then reap the health benefits.
Food Navigator website. “Omega-3 DHA may boost male fertility for mice”
Clin Cancer Res April 1, 2009 15; 2559
Nutraingredients.com. “Omega-3 DHA boosts memory for healthy adults, not Alzheimer’s sufferers”