Many people know that eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids — like salmon, flaxseeds and walnuts — can potentially prevent cardiovascular disease. In a new study, researchers at the University of Bristol in the U.K. found that the beneficial fats may also keep joints healthy.
A team of scientists examined the effects of omega-3s on guinea pigs because the animals are prone to developing osteoarthritis. When the rodents were fed a diet supplemented with the fatty acids, they experienced reductions in joint cartilage degradation by 50 percent.
Moreover, the researchers noted that omega-3s may have the potential to slow the progression of osteoarthritis in addition to preventing it.
Results of this study suggest that consuming more foods and nutritional supplements containing the healthy fat may reduce rates of the joint disease. The authors said that fish oil is likely more effective than flax oil, but that the latter remains a good option for vegetarians.
“Most diets in the developed world are lacking in omega-3, with modern diets having up to 30 times too much omega-6 and too little omega-3. Taking omega-3 will help redress this imbalance and may positively contribute to a range of other health problems such as heart disease and colitis,” said the study authors.