Salmon oil is best known for being an exceptionally rich source of omega-3 fats.
The primary omega-3 fats found in salmon oil are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (1).
Research has linked the intake of EPA and DHA to a variety of health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease, improved brain health, and reduced inflammation.
This article explores 8 impressive health benefits of salmon oil.
The inflammatory response is an important part of your body’s immune system.
However, excessive inflammation can give rise to chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes (2).
Research suggests that the omega-3 fats found in salmon oil can suppress your body’s inflammatory response in a variety of ways. For instance, it’s thought to reduce levels of pro-inflammatory chemicals produced by immune cells (3).
Summary Omega-3 fats in salmon oil can inhibit your body’s inflammatory response and may help manage symptoms associated with certain inflammatory diseases.
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood. Elevated levels of triglycerides have been identified as a risk factor for heart disease and stroke (4).
Meanwhile, HDL cholesterol — often referred to as “good” cholesterol — is known for having a protective effect on your heart health (5).
Research indicates that the omega-3s found in salmon oil may play a role in lowering triglycerides and raising HDL cholesterol.
One 4-week study in 19 people found that consuming up to 9.5 ounces (270 grams) of salmon twice per week reduced in triglycerides and increased HDL cholesterol levels (6).
Another study in 92 men with high cholesterol and triglycerides compared the effects of eating salmon to eating other types of protein.
The men who ate salmon every day for eight weeks experienced a significant reduction in triglycerides and a significant increase in HDL cholesterol, compared with those who consumed other protein sources (7).
This evidence indicates that the consumption of salmon oil may promote heart health by improving the concentration and composition of fats in your blood.
Summary Research suggests that consuming salmon oil may promote heart health by reducing triglycerides and increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
Your body can use omega-3 fats from salmon oil to make a compound called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide stimulates the relaxation of blood vessels, leading to improved blood flow and reduced blood pressure (8).
A study in 21 people found that those who took supplements of DHA and EPA — omega-3 fats found in salmon oil — experienced significantly improved blood flow and oxygen delivery during exercise, compared with those who consumed a different kind of oil (9).
Another small, 6-week study showed that consuming EPA and DHA supplements daily improved blood flow and enhanced exercise tolerance in people engaging in hand-grip exercises, compared with a control group (10).
Although these results are encouraging, more studies are needed to better understand how omega-3 fats in salmon oil can improve blood flow and physical performance.
Summary Omega-3 fats found in salmon oil may promote improved blood flow and oxygen delivery, but more research is needed.
Omega-3 fats like those found in salmon oil are essential for proper fetal development.
Children born to mothers who consume fish or take omega-3 supplements during pregnancy typically score higher on cognitive and motor skill development tests than children whose mothers did not consume omega-3 fats (11).
Omega-3 intake by the mother during pregnancy and the child in early childhood are also associated with a lower risk of behavioral problems in the child (11).
Some research indicates omega-3 consumption may also play a role in preventing preterm births. However, the evidence on this effect is mixed and remains inconclusive (11).
Summary The omega-3 fats found in salmon oil may play an important role in proper fetal brain development and cognitive function in children.
There’s strong evidence that omega-3 fats are important for brain development in children. Now, preliminary research suggests they may also promote brain health much later in life.
Test-tube studies have shown that DHA, one of the omega-3 fats found in salmon oil, plays a role in the repair and development of neural cells (12).
Additionally, adequate intake of DHA is associated with a reduced risk of age-related cognitive decline and the development of Alzheimer’s disease (12).
Moreover, some test-tube and animal studies suggest that taking omega-3 supplements may help prevent and treat Parkinson’s disease (12).
Ultimately, more well-designed human studies are needed to better understand how the omega-3 fats found in salmon oil may support brain health throughout the human lifespan.
Summary Adequate intake of omega-3 fats found in salmon oil is associated with a reduced risk of age-related cognitive decline and the development of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Adequate intake of omega-3 fats from sources like salmon oil may benefit your skin and eye health.
Omega-3 fats play a role in the development of healthy eyes and vision in childhood. Moreover, a higher intake throughout adulthood is associated with a decreased risk of eye diseases like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (11, 13).
Omega-3s in salmon oil also contribute to healthy skin via their anti-inflammatory effects.
Research suggests consuming omega-3s may protect your skin from sun damage, reduce symptoms associated with dermatitis, and promote wound healing (14).
Summary Adequate intake of omega-3 fats from sources like salmon oil supports skin health and may reduce the risk of certain age-related eye diseases.
Some studies suggest that adding omega-3 fats from salmon oil to your diet, along with other lifestyle modifications, may help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. Nevertheless, the data is mixed.
Several animal studies have revealed that taking omega-3 supplements may reduce the tendency to accumulate excess body fat (15).
A few human studies have also shown that taking omega-3 supplements had a similar effect, reducing body fat accumulation when the supplements were paired with a reduced-calorie diet and exercise plan (15).
However, most of this evidence comes from very short-term studies (15).
More long-term research is needed to better assess the role of salmon oil on obesity and weight control in humans.
Summary Early research suggests that taking omega-3 supplements may support fat loss, but more long-term human studies are needed.
Incorporating salmon oil into your diet is easy. One simple option is to add salmon to your weekly meal plan.
To reap the greatest benefits, the American Heart Association recommends enjoying a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of fatty fish like salmon at least two times per week (16).
Fresh, frozen, or canned salmon are all great options.
For an easy weeknight dinner, season a salmon fillet with garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil and roast it on a sheet pan with a variety of nutrient-dense vegetables.
Try using canned salmon to make an herbed or curried salmon salad. Serve it as a sandwich or on a bed of leafy greens for a light and satisfying lunch.
If you don’t like salmon but still want to take advantage of its health benefits, consider taking a salmon oil supplement.
Most salmon oil supplements come in either liquid or softgel form. They can be found at your local health store or online.
Dosage recommendations can vary widely. However, daily intake of approximately 1 gram of salmon oil that includes both EPA and DHA is likely adequate (16).
It may be best to avoid consuming more than 3 grams per day unless a qualified healthcare practitioner has instructed you to do so (16).
Salmon oil supplements are likely safe for most people, but taking too much could lead to uncomfortable side effects, such as nausea, heartburn, and diarrhea (17).
If you’re taking blood-thinning medications, it’s best to consult your doctor before starting a salmon oil supplement, as it could increase your risk of bleeding (17).
In some countries, including the United States, dietary supplements are not regulated. Thus, they could contain unwanted and potentially harmful ingredients or additives.
Always choose a supplement that has been tested by a third party like the NSF or the US Pharmacopeia to ensure the purity and quality of the product you buy.
Summary You can add salmon oil to your diet in whole fish or supplement form. However, stick to the recommended amounts because consuming too much could lead to negative side effects.
Salmon oil is a rich source of the omega-3 fats DHA and EPA.
Consuming omega-3s from salmon oil is associated with a variety of health benefits, including reducing inflammation, aiding weight management, and boosting heart and brain health.
You can obtain the benefits of salmon oil by including salmon in your diet or taking a salmon oil supplement.
However, stick to the recommended amount of salmon per week and the recommended dosage of salmon oil. Consuming too much could lead to negative health implications.
If you’re unsure whether salmon oil is right for your diet, consult your healthcare provider for advice.
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