Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D., is a registered dietitian; author of "Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations" (LifeLine Press, 2011); and a frequent national commentator on nutrition topics. This article was adapted from one that first appeared in the Washington Post. Tallmadge contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
I first became interested in the power of omega-3 fatty acids when psychiatrists I work with began prescribing the nutrient to depressed patients, finding it made positive improvements. Then, I started hearing about the potential benefits of omega-3s for arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Could it be possible that one nutrient could provide so many benefits?
The connection between omega-3s and health was first observed in the 1970s. Scientists observed that Inuit populations in Greenland had a reduced rate of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments even though they ate a high-fat and high-cholesterol diet. The researchers hypothesized that the type of fat — marine-derived — might play a role. Since then, study after study has confirmed that omega-3s in fish have a potent effect on reducing heart disease .
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