Can you eat your way to a better mood?

Want to dial down your crankiness? Well, it may be as easy as taking one simple supplement or tweaking your diet.

A new meta-analysis by University of Pennsylvania neurocriminologist Adrian Raine shows that omega-3 supplementation or diets heavy in omega-3 can reduce aggressive behaviour and anxiety across age and gender.

Professer Raine and his team found omega-3 supplements reduced aggression by 30 per cent, regardless of age, gender, diagnosis, treatment duration and dosage.

“I think the time has come to implement omega-3 supplementation to reduce aggression, irrespective of whether the setting is the community, the clinic, or the criminal justice system,” Prof. Raine says.

“Omega-3 is not a magic bullet that is going to completely solve the problem of violence in society. But can it help? Based on these findings, we firmly believe it can, and we should start to act on the new knowledge we have.”

Reducing aggression

Researchers found omega-3 reduced both reactive aggression, which is in response to provocation, and proactive aggression, which is planned.

“There is now sufficient evidence to begin to implement omega-3 supplementation to reduce aggression in children and adults – irrespective of whether the setting is the community, the clinic, or the criminal justice system,” the report found.

Nutritional therapist Stefanie Daniels said the results were not surprising.

 “Chronic inflammation in the brain is linked to mood disorders and aggressive behavior, and omega-3s (particularly EPA and DHA) help reduce this inflammation,” she told Healthline.

“By decreasing inflammation, these fatty acids can support a more stable and balanced mood.”

Regulating moods

In addition, omega-3s enhance the production and function of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, both of which are crucial for regulating our mood.

Omega-3 acids are a family of essential fatty acids that play important roles in your body.

While they’re important to all your cells, omega-3s are concentrated in high levels in cells in your eyes and brain.

The human body does not produce omega-3s on its own, so they must be provided by your diet or supplements.

Choose your food

Common foods that are high in omega-3 include fatty fish, fish oils, flax seeds, oysters, chia seeds and walnuts. Fatty fish include salmon, sardines, cod, herring, lake trout and canned light tuna.

There are also many supplements available, and many foods are also supplemented with omega-3s.

Other advantages of omega-3s include lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease, blood clots, and some forms of cancer including breast cancer, Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The study included 35 independent samples from 29 studies conducted in 19 independent laboratories from 1996 to 2024 with 3918 participants.

However, there was very little follow-up on study participants to see if omega-3 reduced aggression in the long term.

Do you take any supplements? What for? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Forget counting calories – just focus on these ‘medicinal’ foods, says expert

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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