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Does Fish Oil Suppress Appetite?

by
author image Ryan Devon
Ryan Devon is a registered dietitian with a Master of Science in nutrition and health promotion from Simmons College. He starting writing in 2010, specializing in weight management and eating-disorder science.
Does Fish Oil Suppress Appetite?
A woman is holding a fish oil pill. Photo Credit solidcolours/iStock/Getty Images

More than 40 million adults living in the United States attempt a diet every year, CBSNews.com reports. However, they add that very few dieters succeed over the long term. Combating a raging appetite during a weight loss can make dieting torturous. Naturally reducing your appetite can help you lose more weight and make healthier food choices. Adding fish oil to your low-calorie diet may put a lid on your appetite.

Fish Oil

Fish oil is a natural source of omega-3 fats. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, omega-3 fats are important for immunity and cardiovascular health. Additionally, omega-3 fats are known as essential fats -- meaning that they need to be consumed from the diet. Fish oils are rich in a pair of particularly powerful types of omega-3 fats known as eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Plant sources of omega-3 fats, including tofu and flaxseeds, are low in EPA and DHA. Including adequate amounts of omega-3 rich fish oil to a low-calorie diet may control appetite and boost weight loss.

Science

Research published in the November 2008 issue of the journal "Appetite" investigated the differences between a high and low omega-3 diet on a group of weight loss volunteers. Over the course of an 8-week period, a group of 324 research subjects were asked to cut calories by consuming one of two diets. One diet was low in omega-3 fats while the other contained more than 1300 mg of omega-3s per day. At the end of the 8-week follow up period it was discovered that the omega-3 fats significantly augmented weight loss and curbed appetite.

Mechanisms

The researchers also found out how omega-3 fats were able to substantially reduce appetite. At the end of the 8-week period, blood samples were taken from the high and low omega-3 diet groups. It was discovered that the high omega-3 group had lower levels of appetite-promoting hormones like ghrelin and higher levels of appetite-suppressing hormones like leptin. They note that omega-3s may also affect how the brain sends out and perceives hunger signals from the body.

Dangers

Fish oil is a potent dietary supplement that should be taken after approval from your doctor. Consuming fish oil with blood thinning medications may bring on undesirable side effects. Also, fish oils-- especially those derived from predatory fish like shark or mackerel -- may contain heavy metals. Opt for fish oil that's been purified of potentially dangerous heavy metals.

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