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Feeling Fat? Eat This Fish for Protection

Feeling Fat? Eat This Fish for Protection

Okay, so maybe you're not at your dream weight. (Who is?) But you could guard against some of the health risks that come with extra pounds just by eating more fish.

Researchers who recently examined an Eskimo community in Alaska were surprised to find that some of the overweight and obese people in the group didn't have the high, unhealthy levels of triglycerides that usually come with being large. And scientists suspect it's because of the fatty fish they were enjoying.

Fish-Fat Connection
Fatty fish, like salmon, is a rich source of docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) -- two omega-3 fatty acids that have a solid rep for promoting heart health. And these two types of fat appeared to have a protective effect in the overweight and obese Yup'ik Eskimos observed in the study. The Yup'ik Eskimos tend to consume about 20 times more omega-3 fatty acids from fish compared to Americans outside of Alaska. And while the Alaskan community also has obesity rates similar to the rest of the states, the heavy men and women in the group had relatively healthy triglycerides -- so long as their DHA and EPA intake was up. Leaving researchers to suspect that eating plenty of fatty fish may help counteract some of the negative health impacts of being big. (Find out what else you should feed your heart to keep it young.)

Hidden Heart-Helpers
Not only did the fish-loving Yup'ik Eskimos have lower triglycerides, but they also had lower levels of C-reactive protein -- an inflammatory marker that has been linked to both diabetes and heart disease risk. Plenty of other studies have linked higher DHA and EPA intakes to heart health benefits -- from lower triglyceride and C-reactive protein levels to higher HDL (healthy) cholesterol levels. But this is one of the first to suggest that the fats in fish may help undo some of the damage that extra pounds cause. Time to go fishing!

Omega-3s are good for creaky knees, too. Check out these joint-friendly foods.

Medically reviewed in April 2019.

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