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6 bennies of omega-3s

A roundup of six ways omega-3 fatty acids are thought to boost health.

People have recognized the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for hundreds of years--long before 20th century mothers forced spoonfuls of cod liver oil down their kids’ gullets. Back then, the stuff was promoted as a stinky weapon against rickets, a bone disease that ran rampant among poor children. In those days, manufacturers made the oil by packing wooden barrels with fish livers and sea water and letting it ferment for a year. No wonder kids held their noses as they gulped it down.

These days, there are far more palatable ways to get your daily dose of omegas, and far more research backing up health claims. Despite this, American men only get 50 percent of the daily recommended dose and women get just 40 percent, according to the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s.

The website has published a handy list of six benefits of omega-3s:
1. Boost the “good” cholesterol and reduce stroke and atherosclerosis risk.
2. Soothe the swelling with anti-inflammatory properties.
3. Maintain eye health and reduce retinal deterioration that comes with aging.
4. Protect the brain against cognitive disorders from depression to Parkinson’s.
5. Fight aging, by keeping the brain plump and functioning efficiently.
6. Helps kids’ brains develop correctly, starting from in the womb.

There are more than 27,000 published studies on omega-3s, making them some of the most studied nutrients in the world. It seems like just as much research has been poured into developing novel ways to consume the stuff. Recently, companies have developed everything from cows to squids as sources. And, they’re creating ways to include omegas in food that won’t have anyone holding their nose. Food science researchers at Virginia Tech showed it’s possible to incorporate fish oil into dairy-based beverages without destroying the product’s taste or lifespan. Even better, the milk officially passed the sniff test.

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