Dr. Joe Hibbeln is fascinated by the effect of omega-3 fatty acids, in particular docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), on our brains. He is convinced that a nation-wide deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids is contributing to depression and other mood disorders.
The country's diet has gone through some fundamental changes in recent years, with an excess of omega-6 fatty acids and a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids being consumed. Dr. Hibbeln believes that this change is a major reason for an upsurge of mood disorders.
"Today, Americans get 10 to 25 times more omega-6s than omega-3s, partly because we don’t eat as many omega-3-rich fish, such as salmon and sardines (or wild animals, which are also higher in omega-3s), but mostly because our diets now contain processed foods that are packed with omega-6-rich oils, including oils made from soybeans, safflower and corn."
Dr. Hibbeln, age 49, is a captain in the United States Public Health Service. His focus throughout his career has been a study of the effects of omega-3 fatty acids.