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How Does Omega-3 Fatty Acids Affect the Heart Health?

Doctors may recommend to cut down the intake of fat, but not all the fatty acids are unhealthy. The good fat,

omega-3 fatty acids

are loaded with far-reaching benefits for overall health. Studies suggest that the omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce the risk of developing heart diseases. In addition to the heart health, these omega-3 fatty acids help to protect against symptoms of dementia, depression, cancer and arthritis. In this article there is a brief discussion on the omega-3 fatty acids and its overall affect on the heart health.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Some of the foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include nuts, leafy greens, salmon, etc.

Types of omega-3 fatty acids

There are more than one type of omega-3 fatty acids.

  • DHA and EPA:

    This type of omega-3 fatty acid is found in fish which appear to share the strongest benefits for overall health of the body.

  • ALA:

    This form of omega-3 fatty acids is found in flaxseed, vegetable oils, dark leafy vegetables (spinach) and walnuts.

Our body converts a very small amount of ALA form of omega-3 fatty acids into EPA and DHA form. However, both these forms of omega-3 fatty acids have health benefits of their own.

How do omega-3 fatty acids fights against diseases?

Omega-3 fatty acids are the good fats and they are believed to fight against disease. They help by reducing the inflammation on overall body, including inflammation within the blood vessels and joints. They also help by lowering the risk of developing an abnormal heart rhythm, slows down the rate of plaque deposition on the inner walls of the blood vessels and also reduced the levels of unhealthy or bad fats in the blood flow. Since, our body cannot prepare omega-3 fatty acids, we must include it in our diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids and heart deaths

Individuals who have had a previous record of heart attack must include omega-3 fatty acids in their diet. This is because it help to lower one’s risk of death due to heart disease. Studies have also shown that there is a reduction in the heart attacks and also of sudden deaths among the heart attack survivors, due to their increased levels of omega-3 fats. This includes individuals who intake supplements of fish oil and those who eat fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, etc) or take trout regularly.

Omega-3 fatty acids and Arrhythmias

Omega-3 fatty acids seem to have an effect of stabilizing on the heart. This omega-3’s can also reduce the risk of developing abnormal heart rhythms or life-threatening arrhythmias and can lower the heart rate. Several common food sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish, walnuts, edamame, broccoli, green soy beans which are often steamed and then served in the pod.

Omega-3 fatty acids and Triglycerides:

Omega-3 fatty acids help to lower the levels of triglycerides. Triglyceride is a type of fat in the blood which is linked directly to heart disease. These triglycerides collect within the bloodstream and also in the fat cells of the body. Unfortunately, omega-3 fatty acids increase the level of cholesterol – both the bad (LDL) cholesterol and good (HDL) cholesterol. Patients with high triglycerides levels must consult their medical professional before taking omega-3 fatty acids. Eating more amount of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids is generally safe.

Omega-3 fatty acids and High Blood Pressure:

There is strong evidence that these omega-3 fatty acids lower blood pressure. Though, the effect of lowering blood pressure is small. Patients who have high B.P. (blood pressure) must eat fish as it can be very helpful along with prescribed medications and other dietary changes. One strategy is to include fish by replacing red meat during the meals. It is always best to avoid eating salty fish (smoked salmon).

Omega-3 fatty acids and Stroke:

There is a mixed evidence on whether this omega-3 fatty acids can help to prevent strokes. Omega-3 fatty acid curbs the build-up of plaque in the blood vessels and also has the anti-clotting effects. Thus, it might help to prevent ischemic strokes, (this is a type which is caused by a blockage or clots in the arteries. But, consumption of very high doses of omega-3 supplements may increases one’s risk of developing hemorrhagic strokes, this is less common type which involves bleeding inside the brain.

Best source of omega-3’s:

The best food source of omega-3 fatty acids includes fish. But some of their varieties offer a high dose of omega-3’s than others. The top choices of omega=3 fatty acid fishes include salmon, herring, mackerel, lake trout, anchovies, tuna and sardines. The American heart association recommends including at least 2 servings of fish a week, which is about ¾th cup of flaked fish or 3.5 ounces of cooked fish.

Danger of contaminated fish:

Mercury is the toxic harmful metal which must be avoided. The mercury present in the fish is not at all a health concern, for most individuals. The FDA has advice some precautions for young children, pregnant women and nursing mothers. These are as follows:

  • Limit fish contaminated to mercury lower to 12 ounces per week.
  • Limit albacore tuna fish to about 6 ounces per week.
  • Avoid sword fish, tile fish, king mackerel and shark.
  • Remove the fat and skin before cooking the fish.

Omega-3 supplements:

Individuals who don’t like fish or who vegetarians can include omega-3 supplements. Patients with cardiovascular disease must include 1 gram per day which is the recommended amount. Higher levels omega-3 fatty acids can greater the risk of bleeding and may also interfere with some of the medications. The fish oil may also deplete vitamin E, thus supplement some come amount of vitamin E in your diet. Individual taking omega-3 supplements must consult their doctor before taking them.

Omega-3 for Vegetarians:

Individuals who don’t like fish oil or fish can include DHA from the alga supplements. Algae which is grown commercially is generally considered to be safe, but blue-green algae may contain some toxins. Vegetarians can also get the ALA form of good fat from foods such as flaxseed, canola oil, spinach, broccoli and walnuts.

The above article discusses briefly about the

Omega-3 fatty acids

. But, one must be sure to include only those products which include minimal amounts of omega-3 fats.

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