(NaturalNews) Folks now have another tool in their arsenal to help them lose weight, and it's omega-3 fatty acids, according to the results of a new study conducted in Australia.
Researchers at the University of South Australia took a group of 75 people who were diagnosed as being either overweight or obese and who had cardiovascular disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, and split them into four groups.
In the first split, half were given doses of tuna fish oil while the other two groups were given equal amounts of sunflower oil, which contains no omega-3 acids. Both groups were then split once more, with half taking no additional exercise each week while the others completed three 45-minute runs, to 75 percent of their maximum heart rates, each week. All participants were asked not to otherwise alter their diets.
Omega-3 and exercise will do more than just exercise to help you shed pounds
After three weeks, three of the groups did not show much change, but the group that was given the fish oil and had exercised had an average weight loss of about 4.5 pounds and a decrease in overall body fat percentage.
Following eight weeks, "a significant three-way interaction between time, group and gender was observed for percentage reduction in weight... with a greater percentage decrease for females in FO compared to PB for weight (-7.21 percent vs. -5.82 percent) and BMI (body mass index) (-7.43 percent vs. -5.91 percent respectively)," said a summary of the study, which was published in the February 2013 issue of the journal Food & Function.
"The results seem more impressive given that no other changes to eating habits were made. Also, the exercise 'regime' was not much more than the recommended levels for everyone; not just those trying to lose weight," writes dietician Juliette Kellow, in WeightLossResources, an online nutrition journal based in Britain. "When combined with a calorie-counted diet and increased exercise, the effects of fish oil on weight loss could prove substantial."
Scientists believe that omega-3 oil improves blood flow to muscles during exercise, and that the compound helps stimulate enzymes that transport fat to where it can be stored for energy.
The good news is, omega-3 is widely available as a supplement on the retail market, and as an additive in certain foods and drinks. It's use has become more popular as a growing body of research continues to uncover new benefits it offers, such as better brain and memory function and greater eye development and sustainment, as well as an ability to reduce risks of stroke and contracting Alzheimer's disease.
A diet rich in omega-3 is key to longevity
Kellow notes that additional, longer studies are being planned to help scientists better understand the full effects of omega-3 supplementation, especially over an extended period of time and in conjunction with greater amounts of exercise. "Although taking omega-3 in its natural form (from fish for example) may give the greatest benefits," she writes, "omega-3 fish oil supplements could be an effective natural weight loss supplement to combine with an exercise program."
Previous studies of omega-3 have found that in countries where it is a well-integrated part of the normal diet, such as in Japan and Norway, people tend to live longer.
"...[C]ountries that consume omega-3 regularly such as (Japan and Norway) have higher life expectancy rates compared to parts of the world that have adopted the Western diet. Furthermore, the rate of obesity is significantly lower among those whose diets are rich in omega-3 fatty acids," says Omega3.org.