Omega 3 fatty acids and heart health

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It really does seem that omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial to the health of your heart. As of September, 2004, in a statement released by the Food and Drug Administration, food companies can now make certain claims about the heart-healthy benefits of omega-3 fatty acids on their packages

"FDA has concluded that while these particular fatty acids are not essential to the diet but they may be beneficial in reducing coronary heart disease," said FDA acting commissioner Lester Crawford.”

There seems to be no doubt as to the benefits of these fats in our diet. In fact, even the American Heart Association has released an AHA Recommendation:

“Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy people, and those at high risk of — or who have — cardiovascular disease.
We recommend eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times a week. Fish is a good source of protein and doesn’t have the high saturated fat that fatty meat products do. Fatty fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon are high in two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).” omega-3-fish-and-oil

Increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake through foods is preferable. However, coronary artery disease patients may not be able to get enough omega-3 by diet alone. These people may want to talk to their doctor about taking a supplement. Supplements also could help people with high triglycerides, who need even larger doses. The availability of high-quality omega-3 fatty acid supplements, free of contaminants, is an important prerequisite to their use.

A early study of 1,800 Western Electric Workers that began way back in 1957 showed that regular meals of fish lowered the overall risk of heart disease by 38% and of heart attack by 60% compared to men who ate red meat.

"Fish Consumption and the 30-year Risk of Fatal Myocardial Infarction," by Martha L Daviglus, M.D., Ph. D., Jeremiah Stamler, M.D., Anthony J. Orencia, M.D., Ph.D., et al, printed in The New England Journal of Medicine 3361046-1053 (April 10, 1997)

So how do omega 3 fatty acids actually help your heart?

It seems that Omega-3s greatly reduce the formation of blood clots. This is important because most heart attacks result when blood clots get stuck together in the blood vessels, blocking the passage of blood to the heart. They may also prevent heartbeat abnormalities, thereby protecting against sudden cardiac arrest, a major cause of death from heart disease. Omega 3 fatty acids also lower triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood which, when elevated, may also increase the risk of heart attacks.

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