Based on all the hype, you’d be forgiven for believing that the fish oils known as omega-3s are the solution to every problem. Heart disease, dementia, depression, even obesity—the list of ailments that experts claim a daily dose of omega-3 can help prevent seems endless. And with more than 10 percent of Americans taking a capsule of fish oil daily, omega-3s are one of the most profitable supplements in the world, too. Listen in this episode, as the author Paul Greenberg and the scientist JoAnn Manson help us figure out what these supposedly miracle molecules are, and what consuming them is doing to our bodies—and to our oceans.
Greenberg had already authored a couple of successful and award-winning books about fish by the time he hit his mid-40s—an age when he, like many people, started to feel the first, faint signs that he was no longer young. “When you Google all the things that are going wrong with you in middle age—your joints hurt, your high blood pressure, losing your memory—what comes up again and again are omega-3 supplements,” he told Gastropod. Greenberg knew that those supplements are made from fish—millions of tiny fish that no one eats, such as the menhaden and the Peruvian anchoveta. And so he set out to write his most recent book, The Omega Principle, which follows fish oils from their evolutionary origins at the dawn of photosynthesis to their discovery by a Spam scientist to the enormous extraction industry that feeds our hunger for them today.