If you woke up this morning feeling the effects of a pancake- and pastry-filled weekend, consider hitting the sushi bar for lunch today: A new study found that a diet rich in omega-3s can help offset the effects of sugar. The study indicates that the omega-3 fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) seems to reverse the harmful changes produced by fructose from sugary foods.
“DHA changes not just one or two genes—it seems to push the entire gene pattern back to normal, which is remarkable,” Xia Yang, a senior author of the study and a UCLA assistant professor of integrative biology and physiology, said in a news release. “And we can see why it has such a powerful effect.”
Although DHA occurs naturally in human brain cells, it’s not in a large enough quantity to help fight diseases like the ones potentially caused by too much sugar (such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes). So how do you increase your levels of DHA?
“The brain and the body are deficient in the machinery to make DHA. It has to come through our diet,” said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and of integrative biology and physiology, and co-senior author of the paper. DHA is abundant in wild salmon (but not farmed salmon), walnuts, flaxseed, and fruits and vegetables.
So while we’re not suggesting you run to your nearest Dylan’s Candy Bar—if you do, maybe take a trip to your local farmer’s market on the way home.
And FYI omega-3s are also great as a beauty supplement for skin, hair, and nails. Here’s how to sneak more of them into your diet, even if you’re vegan.