Consuming omega-3 fatty acids has many health benefits ranging from cancer treatment to joint pain and high blood pressure, scientists say. But recently a team of Japanese researchers led by Masayuki Sekiguchi at the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry (NCNP) in Tokyo have found another benefit of omega-3: preventing anxiety disorders.
The omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in particular, was studied by the researchers. DHA can be found in blue ocean fish such as mackerel and sardines.
The scientists made experiments on mice, feeding them diets containing both omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. The latter are thought to have negative health effects.
One group of mice was fed a diet of omega-3 and omega-6 acids in a ratio of about one to seven respectively. Another group of mice was given and equal ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
After that, each group of mice was given low electric shocks to agitate them and then the time was measured until they got back to their normal behavior.
Of the mice fed a 1/7 mix of fatty acids, the average time to overcome their fear was 80 seconds. However, the mice fed a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 were back to normal after only 42 seconds on average, according to a report by the local press.
Although the study has not reached any official conclusions yet, the scientists hope that this discovery will develop into a better prevention of the anxiety disorders.
“By eating a lot of fish you can increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acids which may help to suppress the onset of anxiety disorders,” said Dr. Sekiguchi.