~ The Power of Fish Oil - Sardines on Toast Could Help You Lose Weight

Daily Mail, 07-31-06

TUCKING into sardines on toast, you have every right to feel virtuous.

Oily fish, as the health authorities keep reminding us, is among the healthiest things we can eat.

Now there's another reason to put sardines on your shopping list. Full of omega-3 fatty acids, they can apparently help keep weight down as well.

Scientists have found daily doses of oils containing omega-3, combined with moderate exercise, can result in significant weight loss.

But taking the oils without exercise, or exercising alone, means the weight is likelier to stay put. Scientists believe fish oil increases the elasticity of blood vessel walls and improves the flow of blood to muscles during exercise.

'When we divided up a number of people in our research programme, we found that those taking fish oil combined with exercise lost significantly more fat mass than any other group in the study,' said Professor Peter Howe, who led the study at the University of South Australia. Sixty-eight overweightor obese adults at risk of coronary disease took part in the 12-week trial.

They were divided into four groups. One took fish oil and exercised while another just took the fish oil.

A third group took sunflower oil and a fourth took sunflower oil and exercised.

As well as being overweight, the participants were at risk of 'metabolic syndrome', a cluster of symptoms associated with obesity including elevated blood pressure.

The clear winners in the study were those given small daily doses of fish oil combined with walking or running for 45 minutes three times a week. They lost an average of 4.5lb over three months. The group which took sunflower oil, which does not contain omega-3 fatty acids, but who exercised, did not lose any weight.

The two groups which did no exercise including those on fish oil also lost no weight.

PhD student Alison Hill, who helped run the study, said the results took researchers by surprise. 'If you take the omega-3 each day and exercise moderately, our studies show your weight will drop,' she said. 'We were very surprised to see it was so effective, especially since these people were still eating whatever they wanted.'

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