Omega 3s and the Heart!
Omega 3s and the Heart!
Dr. Claire Arcidiacono, ND
Omega 3s are something that everyone has heard of. In fact many nutritionists including myself consider them to be essential to a healthy daily vitamin regimen. But many people I talk to ask a few simple questions and the first is usually why they are so important to our health? What are they and where do they come from? And just how do they help keep the heart healthy? Before I start to answer these questions I want to remind everyone that omega 3s are much more than just a heart supplement. In fact in our series on joints omega 3s were a frequent recommendation.
Let’s start with the simple question of why omegas 3s are so important. Well to start off they are very versatile in what they can be used to help with. Then there is the simple fact that the standard American diet is typically very low in omegas 3s. In fact studies have found that over 2/3s of US adults and 95% of US children do not consume enough omega 3s to meet their nutritional needs based on US dietary guidelines. (1) What this means is that most people are not getting enough omega 3s in their diet and can benefit from a supplement. But just what are omega 3s? They are a type of fat consisting of ALA, DHA and EPA. These fats are considered to be essential in our diet because they are essential for certain functions in our body and are important to keep us healthy yet they can’t be made by the body itself. In other words they can only be obtained by getting them in our diet. (2) Omega 3s are typically found in fish and other seafood. They are also found in nuts and seeds. Lastly certain fortified foods contain omega 3s. (3) Fish Oil, Krill Oil Advanced and Flax Seed are all supplements that contain omega 3s.
Everyone knows that omega 3s are good for our cholesterol. According to the Mayo clinic there is strong evidence that omega 3s reduce triglyceride levels in the blood. Additionally according to the Mayo clinic omega 3s can improve HDL or the good cholesterol. (4) Studies have found that omega 3s can help to lower triglycerides by between 25-34%. (5) Even for people with very high triglycerides studies have found that omega 3s can help to lower them. (6) Overall studies have concluded that omega 3s are helpful for triglycerides. (7) Due to the fact studies have found that omega 3s are helpful for both HDL and triglycerides I personally always recommend them for helping with cholesterol concerns.
In addition to helping with cholesterol studies have found that omega 3s can help to reduce the risk of blood clots. This appears to be due to the fact that omega 3s can affect platelet activity causing them to be less reactive. (8) This is important because blood clots can have series consequences. Omega 3s such as fish oil have also been found to be helpful when dealing with arrhythmias. According to Harvard those with a higher than average omega 3 level in their blood were approximately 30% less likely than those with low levels to develop AFib. (9)
Omega 3s have also been found in studies to help with blood pressure. According to the Mayo clinic omega 3s are very helpful for those with moderate to severe high blood pressure. (10) According to a study by the Cleveland heart lab omega 3s were able to help those with hypertension to either lower their medication or in some cases even avoid having to take medication at all. (11)
Omega 3s have also been found in studies to help patients with coronary heart disease. Other studies have found that omega 3s have a beneficial effect on the risks of having cardiovascular death, heart attack and even coronary artery disease. (12)
Overall in my clinical experience I find that omega 3s are an amazing supplement to add on to any protocol for heart health. Now one concern that comes up frequently when I discuss omegas is the smell and taste. A handy tip that works for me personally is to always refrigerate your omegas and take them with food. While they don’t technically need to be kept this way I find that this way prevents any odor.
In our next blog we will be talking about Mitral Valve Prolapse or MVP!