Fish oils in the news? It may be a surprise to some of you. But those of us who have done some research on fish oils and omega-3 already know this.
The health benefits of fish oils have been the subject of numerous studies since the early 1970s. Since that time it has been often noted that cultures with a diet rich in fish have a much lower incidence of heart disease. But did you know that fish is high in fat?
Not all fats are created equal. When we hear the word "fat" we immediately have a negative reaction. We associate fat with cholesterol and heart disease. And so we should.
But not all fats are on the same side of the cholesterol equation. Fat is necessary to our health and some fats actually help reduce the harmful effects of LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff).
Fats, which are found in the foods we eat; primarily…
… are needed by the human body for proper nutrition.
Without certain fatty acids (fats) our bodies simply could not develop properly.
This is especially true with blood vessels, nerves and skin. Two essential fatty acids found in fish oils are omega-6 and omega-3. The omega-6 family includes linoleic acid, and the omega-3 family includes alpha-linolenic acid.
Linoleic acid, found in omega-6, is an essential building block for certain hormones. These hormones help…
The problem with this essential fatty acid is that it is overly abundant in the average diet. Linoleic acid can be converted into arachidonic acid which, in high levels, can lead to such maladies as blood clotting and arthritis. In the case of omega-6 fatty acids more is definitely not better.
The health benefit of fish oils is found mostly, though not entirely, in the omega-3 fatty acids. These are not prevalent in our diets.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fish and a handful of plant sources not limited to…
Three omega-3 fatty acids that are important for health, and especially cholesterol control, are alpha-linolenic acid, EPA and DHA. The latter two are found mostly in fish and fish oils.
The body can manufacture a limited amount of EPA and DHA from alpha-linolenic acid. An enzyme called delta-6 desaturate in required in the process. However the same enzyme is used in the process of converting omega-6 fatty acid into arachidonic acid.
Because of the excess amounts of omega-6 fatty acid in the typical diet too much arachidonic acid is produced in the system and not enough EPA and DHA. Therefore our high cholesterol diets are serving up a double wammy.Too much arachidonic acid and not enough EPA and DHA.
Before we get into the research...
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Are there health issues – in addition to your heart health – that concern you? Like…
Anxiety? Or not sleeping well? Or joint pain? Or low energy? Or poor digestion? Or weight gain? Or stress? Why do so many people suffer from these symptoms and others? Those nagging health issues that seem so difficult to define.
Did you know that these health problems – as well as more serious chronic diseases – can be the result of …
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In the early 1970's two Danish researchers observed that Eskimos had diets very high in fatty fish. They expected to find that these people would have high incidence of heart disease.
In fact they found the exact opposite.
It was discovered that the blood platelets of Eskimos were not as sticky as those of their European and American counterparts. The researchers attributed this "non-sticky" characteristic to the omega-3 fatty acids consumed in the Eskimos' diet.
Further studies in the decades that followed brought increased knowledge of the effects of fish oils and especially omega-3 fatty acids for the reduction of blood pressure and fat in the blood. Studies continue to uncover the positive effects that omega-3 fatty acids have in the treatment of…
Research has shown that an omega-3 Index of 8% to 10% can reduce a person's risk of death from coronary heart disease by 40 percent and there is a 90 percent risk reduction of sudden cardiac death.
Lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids can increase the risk of heart disease. This is especially true with diets high in saturated fats.
Simply put we are designed to receive a high intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Consider your own diet for a moment. Do you eat cold-water fish several times a week? If not you are most likely getting insufficient amounts of fish oils and omega-3. If your diet is also high in saturated fats chances are your intake of alpha-linolenic acid is not being used for the manufacture of EPA and DHA.
The bottom line in a healthy heart diet is one that is low in saturated and trans-fats and high in certain polyunsaturated fats (especially EPA and DHA) and monounsaturated fats.
For information on fat types please click here.
I am glad you asked.
The research is much more detailed than we have mentioned so far. There have been innumerable studies on omega-3 and fish oil supplementation regarding targeted areas of heart disease. What follows is a brief overview of some of these targeted areas and links leading to pages where you can see more detail on the studies.
Oh yeah… you may be wondering about fish oils being in the news. For just a sampling select the link below on omega 3 and heart attacks.
Fish Oils and Triglycerides
Perhaps the most well known characteristic of omega-3 (especially in fish oils) is its ability to lower triglycerides.
Many studies have demonstrated a 30% decrease in triglyceride levels for patients who supplement with omega-3 rich fish oils.
The research has been so convincing that the American Heart Association recommends 2-4 grams of omega-3 per day for people with high triglycerides.
If you have high triglycerides and are not taking high quality fish oils then you are missing the proverbial boat.
Click here for more details on omega-3 and triglycerides.
Fish Oils and Heart Attack
“Oily Fish Prevents Heart Attacks.”
That is the title of one story that was reported in the BBC news. There are plenty of spectacular stories reported by the media. Apparently the ability of fish oils to help prevent fatal heart attacks is considered news worthy as well.
Many doctors believe that omega-3 from fish helps prevent the massive arrhythmias that accompany the majority of fatal heart attacks. Studies have shown that men with the highest blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids have an 80% lower risk of sudden cardiac death than men with the lowest blood levels.
Click here to read the studies about omega-3 and heart attacks.
Fish Oils and Blood Pressure
It is well known that naturally occurring fish peptides have a significant blood pressure lowering effect. But studies show that omega-3 can also lower blood pressure.
In particular the research shows that there is a greater fall in both systolic and diastolic blood pressures in people eating fish or taking fish oil compared to those who don’t.
See the research on omega-3 and blood pressure.
Fish Oils and Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is what we call hardening of the arteries. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the US and many other countries.
Among the many studies on the topic is one that says the following…
A combined analysis showed that treatment with omega-3 fatty acids (fish and flaxseed oils) reduced overall risk of death by 23% as compared to placebo. Treatment with statin drugs, on the other hand, only reduced overall mortality by 13% as compared to placebo.
Read this and other studies on fish oils and atherosclerosis by clicking here.
Fish Oils and Congestive Heart Failure
When the heart becomes damaged and weakened it ceases to function properly. This condition is known as congestive heart failure (CHF).
CHF is closely related to other conditions such as coronary heart disease and myocardial infarction (heart damage from heart attack). Treating these and other related conditions can help in the prevention of CHF.
Fish Oils and Sudden Cardiac Death
Closely related to heart attacks is sudden cardiac death (SCD). SCD is caused by a massive interruption in heart rhythm.
When the electrical impulses that control heart rhythm become rapid or chaotic the heart may suddenly stop (arrest). Death normally follows quickly in the absence of immediate emergency care.
The test analyses of some studies have revealed that there is a 42% reduction in sudden cardiac deathswithin the three-month period following a heart attack compared to patients who received no omega-3 fatty acids.
Click here to read more on how omega-3 can help prevent SCD.
Fish Oils and Cholesterol
The research on omega-3 and cholesterol is mixed. But the total cholesterol profile can be improved with sufficient intake of omega-3. This is especially true in relation to triglycerides and the ability of omega-3 to keep blood platelets from sticking together.
To read more on cholesterol and omega-3 please use this link.Sign up now and get 2 heart health e-books FREE! Click Here.
A Challenge For You!
People are making great improvements in their heart health.
How... are they doing it? By challenging themselves to change the way they eat. Really!
I have a challenge for you. It is my double dog dare.