Those who suffer with cardiovascular disease or are at high risk of developing it in the future have most likely discussed prevention options or an extensive treatment plan for their specific condition(s). At some point, it can be presumed that the topic of omega 3 supplements came up in conversation. According to Harvard School of Public Health, “the strongest evidence for a beneficial effect of omega 3 fats has to do with heart disease”¹. Regardless if one suffers from heart conditions, it is recommended that most adults should take between 250 – 500 mg of omega 3’s per day due to the wide range of health benefits that this mineral brings². But, what are omega 3 fatty acids? What is their influence on our health? And, why do practitioners emphasize them the most over other supplements when it comes to the heart?
What Are Omega 3 Fatty Acids?
Omega 3’s are nutrients that are received from foods or supplements to help maintain a healthy body. They are often found in organisms such as plants or fish and play a significant role in providing an energy source to protect the heart, blood vessels, lungs, and immune system. It’s also crucial in the formation of cell membranes due to components of phospholipids. These types of unsaturated fats are extremely beneficial for heart health, and thus are often heavily recommended for those at risk of developing heart disease or for those who currently have it. Omega 3 fatty acids are categorized as “essential” which means that our bodies can’t produce it, therefore it’s up to us to provide ourselves with the necessary supplementation or dietary food sources in order to incorporate all omega 3 minerals into our system. There are three types of Omega 3’s: α-linoleic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). All three work together in tandem to create positive improvements to the heart and body, however each mineral individually plays a different role.
This omega 3 mineral is the most common out of the three that is found within our diets and it can be converted into the other two if it is utilized by the body for something besides energy. An article produced by St. Luke’s Hospital said that one study reported “people who eat a diet high in α-linoleic acid are less likely to have a fatal heart attack”³. While alpha-linoleic acids provide the heart with a normal rhythm and a healthy blood flow, it is also highly recommended for those suffering with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS), autoimmune disease, diabetes, Crohn’s disease and many other chronic illnesses. The ALA Omega 3 fatty acid can be found in certain plants-based substances such as:
- Canola Oil
- Flaxseed Oil
Found in cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, tuna, and herring, eicosapentaenoic acid has been proven to decrease the risks of heart disease based on multiple factors. The mineral can help:
- Improve artery health
- Reduce blood clots
- Remove arterial plaque buildup
- Lower triglycerides
- Decrease hypertension
While EPA is extremely useful for heart health, our bodies also use EPA to produce molecules called eicosanoids to prevent inflammation throughout the body. This creates a domino effect in warding off neurological disorders such as ADHD, menstrual pain, and autoimmune disease. To properly receive this mineral, the American Heart Association normally recommends those suffering with cardiovascular conditions to eat fish at least twice a week or take daily fish oil supplements.
Similar to EPA, docosahexaenoic acid is found in the meat of cold-water fish such as tuna, mackerel, salmon, cod, trout, and herring. Unlike EPA, DHA can also be found in algae, maternal breast milk, and whale blubber. Although it’s mainly found in the same type of food sources as EPA, DHA fights heart disease very differently. DHA helps to control lipid levels in the blood and lower cholesterol, decreasing triglycerides, and loosening blood thickness. As a result, this assists in fighting against type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and high blood pressure. DHA is also a structural component in brain development such as improving memory and aiding child development skills. A severe lack of the mineral over an extensive period of time can also result in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, DHA can also strengthen the retina within eyes to improve eyesight and develop nerve tissue.
Omega 3’s Benefits for the Heart
There are multiple studies that prove that fish oils assist in reducing elevated triglyceride levels and increase high-density lipoproteins, thus decreasing the risks of high cholesterol, stroke and heart disease. A 2015 article produced by Circulation, a medical publisher, stated that, “individuals who consumed fatty fish a few times per week had almost one-half the risk of death from coronary heart disease and almost one-third the risk of death from a heart attack in comparison with those who consumed no fish”4. They can also help to reduce platelet aggregation, which decreases the risk of a blockage within the coronary arteries.
At LifeWorks Wellness Center, we encourage those suffering with heart disease to consider BodyHealth’s Omega 3 Health. Please be forewarned that most fish and plantation sold in stores are saturated with environmental toxins and pesticides that can lead to inflammation, and may even be counterproductive for one’s health. With Omega 3 Health, you will have all three minerals needed without the inconvenience of shopping for the special organic fish and produce. Additionally, you will be receiving the right ratio of Omega 3’s that the body needs. Prior to purchasing any omega 3 supplements, please call to schedule an appointment at 727-466-6789.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
- 12 Foods That Are Very High in Omega-3 (healthline.com)
- Alpha-linolenic acid | Complementary and Alternative Medicine | St. Luke’s Hospital (stlukes-stl.com)
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Heart Health | Circulation (ahajournals.org)