Eating fish could help prevent the spread in middle ages.

In the welcome news for those planning to give up their diet over Christmas, it appears that fish oil can melt away unwanted fat.

Research has shown that the omega-3 fats in fish oil turn “bad” fat cells into healthy cells that specialize in burning calories.

The number of these “good” fat cells begins to decline in middle age – which means the finding may be of particular value to those whose waistlines get larger with age.

Oil, which is rich in omega-3 fats and found in fish, turned “bad” fat cells into healthy ones that burn calories

Japanese research focused on two types of body fat.

The pesky white strain we’re all too familiar with absorbs extra calories and stores them in big bellies, love handles, and saddlebag thighs.

But adults also have “beige” fat cells that burn calories and generate heat.

Experiments on mice showed that fish oil converts white fat cells to beige.

Study author Teruo Kawada of Kyoto University said, “We knew from previous research that fish oil has tremendous health benefits, including preventing fat build-up.

“We tested whether fish oil and an increase in beige cells could be related.”

The team tracked the weight of mice that were fed fatty chow for four months.

When their diet was supplemented with fish oil, the mice gained up to 10 percent less weight and up to 25 percent less fat.

The compounds DHA and EHA pictured above, found in omega-3 oils found in supplements, help maintain a healthy waistline, new research has found

High doses of DHA and EHA, compounds found in omega-3 oils, were particularly beneficial, according to Scientific Reports magazine.

The discovery could explain why people from countries like Japan with a fish-rich diet have exceptionally long lives.

The researchers said, “People have long said that foods from Japan and the Mediterranean contribute to longevity, but why these kitchens are beneficial was an issue.

“Now we have a better understanding of why that is.”

Omega-3 fats, which are especially common in oily fish like herring, mackerel, and salmon, already have a number of health benefits, from controlling high blood pressure to fighting Alzheimer’s disease.

The NHS says we should all eat fish, including one serving of oily fish, twice a week.

Many of us would rather take a pill, however, with health conscious but time pressed Britons spending around £ 10 million a year on omega-3 supplements.

Not everyone agrees that fish oils are good for health.

Two years ago, US scientists warned of a link between an increased level of omega-3 fats in the blood and an increased incidence of prostate cancer.

The researchers said the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in supplements is huge compared to fish and advised men in particular against taking them in capsule form.

The benefits of omega-3 for the heart are also under the microscope. Several recent studies, including two large-scale abstracts, question whether the oils really do benefit heart health.

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