Fish Oil Helps Maintain the Cardiovascular System


What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

What Is The Best Way to Get Enough Fish Oil Goodies Into My System?

Can Fish Oil And Soy Prevent Heart Attacks?

fish oil caps

Softgel capsules help protect against the fishy taste of fish oil...and fishy tasting burps!

What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Fatty Acids – Omega -3, Omega -6, Omega-9 – are deemed “good”  fats which help to balance the “bad” fats in your diet.  Many of these fatty acids are essential, meaning your body needs them but cannot make them.

Omega -3 fatty acids are considered one of the “good” fats important for cellular, heart and metabolic health, and help maintain triglyceride levels already within a normal range.  Fish oils contain two of the most important Omega-3s, those being Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA).

Omega-3 fatty acids are a class of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids with the double bond in the third carbon position from the methyl terminal (hence the use of “3” in their description).

Foods high in omega-3-fatty acids include salmon, halibut, sardines, albacore, trout, herring, walnut, flaxseed oil, and canola oil, shrimp, clams, light chunk tuna, catfish, cod, and spinach.

Like aspirin,EPA and DHA make platelets in the blood less likely to stick together and may reduce inflammatory processes in the blood vessels.

Purported benefits of taking fish oil include the prevention of arrhythmias and other forms of heart disease, alleviation of autoimmune disorders, and improvement of brain function and memory.

Geraldine Hinter reports that Omega-3 in fish oil, phytoestrogens in soy and polyphenols in tea, wine and chocolates are just some of the nutrients which, when combined with exercise, may provide significantly greater benefits in the fight against obesity than exercise or nutrients alone, according to a UniSA research team.  Ms. Hinter presents an interesting article on this subject by providing information about a fish oil study conducted in Australia related to the use of fish oil for weight reduction.  She reports that,

Group leader of the Nutritional Physiology Research Group, Professor Peter Howe, explained that certain bioactive nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids can switch on enzymes that burn up fat but they need a driver like exercise to increase the metabolic rate in order to lower body fat content and counteract obesity. The researchers found that the combination of fish oil and regular exercise reduced abdominal fat in overweight volunteers, while fish oil or exercise alone were ineffective.

(Hinter’s complete report can be found at http://www.unisa.edu.au/unisanews/2005/April/nutrients.asp)

What is the best way to get enough fish oil goodies into my system?

Healthy people are best off to get their omega-3s from fish—about 12 ounces a week. The following people should consider taking fish oil supplements, with their doctor’s approval: those who have coronary artery disease (1 gram a day of omega-3s on days when they don’t eat fish); those with high triglycerides (2 to 4 grams a day); those with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, or other auto-immune disorders (3 grams a day).
Large doses of fish oil supplements have potential side effects that include nausea, diarrhea, belching, and a bad taste in the mouth and can also increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, suppress the immune system, and decrease glucose control in people with diabetes.

fish in a glass

Can Fish Oil and Soy Prevent Heart Attacks?

An article in Science Daily {NORTHBROOK, IL (April 11, 2005) }
follows below in it’s entirety (or click on the link and read it at their site…)

Taking daily supplements of fish or soy oil may improve cardiac function and protect against heart attacks in the short-term. Study results published in the April issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, are the first to show that soy oil increases heart rate variability (HRV), a measure of cardiac autonomic function.

“Our findings contradict the current belief in the medical community that increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids produces only long-term cardiac benefits,” said the study’s lead author, Fernando Holguin, MD, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA. “In fact, our study group showed improvements in heart function in as little as two weeks.”

Researchers from Atlanta, GA, Boston, MA, and Cuernavaca, Mexico, took the HRV of 58 elderly patients every other day for two months to establish an HRV baseline for each participant. For 11 weeks, half of the study participants took a daily 2 g supplement of fish oil, which contains marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids, and the other half took a daily 2 g supplement of soy oil, which contains plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids improve heart function by providing greater variability between beats, therefore reducing the risk of arrhythmia and/or sudden death. Heart rate variability is measured by high-frequency (HF) and low-frequency (LF) domain components and standard deviation of normal RR intervals (SDNN). Those who received fish oil experienced a significant increase in total HF and LF domain components and SDNN. Patients who received soy oil experienced a marginally significant increase in HF and LF domain components and a significant increase in SDNN.

“Reduced HRV predicts mortality and arrhythmic complications in patients who have had a heart attack, as well as those who are considered healthy,” said Dr. Holguin. “Taking a daily supplement of fish or soy oil may help reduce the risk of suffering an adverse cardiovascular event, such as arrhythmia or sudden death, specially in persons with known cardiovascular disease or at increased risk for it, such as those with lipid disorders, advanced age, hypertension, a history of smoking, and family history of heart disease.”

Researchers also discovered that while patients in both groups experienced a significant increase in HRV, those who took the fish oil supplements achieved a greater increase in a shorter time period. Patients who received fish oil experienced increased HRV within the first 2.7 weeks, whereas it took 8.1 weeks for a significant increase in HRV to be seen in the group taking soy oil. None of the study participants experienced significant negative side effects, but 41% of participants in the fish oil group reported belching, compared to 16% in the soy oil group.

The Science Daily report concludes that,

“Studies like this demonstrate that there are additional approaches we can take to protect ourselves from heart attacks,” said Paul A. Kvale, MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians. “It’s exciting to see the potential for omega-3 fatty acids in improving heart function when it complements a healthy lifestyle of exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting eight hours of sleep.”

SUMMARY

The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can help protect against cardiovascular disease in healthy people and in those who already have heart disease. Whether fish and fish oil supplements are good for the brain remains uncertain.

TIP: Where can one purchase fish oil?

Buy fish oil online at numerous e-shops or for more fun you can visit you local Vitamin/Health food store for fish oil capsules…and read the label for amounts of Omega-3,6,9 contents before purchasing!

*As always, check with your physician before taking supplements, especially if you take prescribed medication.*

For more information about fish oil check:
http://www.fish-oil.biz/fishoilarticles.htm

REFERENCES:

http://www.wellnessletter.com/html/ds/dsFishOil.php

http://www.unisa.edu.au/unisanews/2005/April/nutrients.asp

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050506141828.htm

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