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March 10, 2016

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DHA part of healthy diet at all ages

GIVEN the widely acknowledged benefits of DHA omega-3, a fatty acid found in fish oil, many people consume fish-oil-based tonics to promote brain functioning and delay signs of aging.

DHA omega-3 is regarded by many health professionals as essential part of a healthy diet. It is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid that serves as a primary building block for the brain and the eyes and supports brain, eye and cardiovascular health throughout life.

These benefits have sparked a wide interest in fish oils among the general public. But as more products containing DHA become available and awareness about their potential benefits spreads, doctors caution against taking them without first consulting a health professional.

“DHA plays an important role in each stage of life, especially in the infant stage,” says Professor Shen Yuehua, Pediatrics Chief Physician at Shanghai International Peace Maternity Hospital.

Baby brains grow quickly in the last few months of pregnancy and the first few years after birth. During these times, the body’s demand for DHA is near its highest. Infants usually get DHA from their mother’s milk or milk powders.

Usually, mother’s milk can satisfy the need for DHA in infants. But for some premature babies who didn’t absorb enough DHA in the uterus, additional supplements may be necessary.

For consumers of all ages though, it’s best to consult a doctor before adding DHA supplements to one’s diet. Adding too much can lead to side-effects such as decreased immunity, while also over-burdening the digestive system.

Apart from supporting healthy growth in babies DHA is also necessary for adults, who can use it to promote memory and mental functioning.

According to Cai Meiqin, deputy chairman of the Nutrition Department at Shanghai Jiaotong University Medical College, having adequate DHA in one’s diet can reduce the risk of experiencing Alzheimer’s disease.

“Algal DHA has been shown to improve memory function in healthy aging adults, providing a benefit roughly equivalent to having the learning and memory skills of someone three years younger,” explained Cai, citing the MIDAS study published earlier this year in the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Customers should also be alert that consuming excessive amounts of DHA can interfere with platelet coagulation, which may aggravate hemorrhagic diseases. Patients with hemorrhagic diseases, liver cirrhosis, and coagulation disorders should consult their doctor before taking DHA.

Seaweeds, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, sesame, salmon, tuna, sardines, yellow croaker, eel and hairtail are all rich in DHA.

Shrimp, seaweed and tofu soup


A box of tofu, 10 shrimp, seaweed (10g)


1. Chop tofu into bite-size pieces

2. Soak dried seaweed in water for about 30 minutes

3. Panfry shrimp

4. Boil water in a saucepan and add fried shrimp

5. Add seaweed and tofu; turn to gentle heat for about 3 minutes

6. Add salt to season

Panfried almonds and snow beans


Snow beans (100g), almond (50g), garlic as needed


1. Clean beans

2. Heat oil in a pan, add garlic to pan-fry

3. Add snow beans; pan-fry till beans turn dark green

4. Add almonds and pan-fry for about two minutes.

5. Add salt to season

Stewed little yellow croakers and yam


Five little yellow croakers, yam (150g), corn-starch, ginger slices and coriander as needed


1. Mix corn-starch with water; spread mixture on little yellow croakers

2. Peel and chop yam

3. Heat water in a pan together with a few drops of oil.

4. Put fish in; remove when cooked well

5. Add more water. When water comes to a boil, add a few more drops of oil.

6. Add yams

7. Add fish when yam is cooked well.

8. Add coriander when soup boils

9. Add salt to season


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