Science: Omega-3s And Heart Disease

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A study published in Circulation looked at the impact of fish oil and fish consumption on heart disease risk.

The researchers did a review study because observational evidence showed that consuming omega-3 fatty acids lowered risk coronary heart disease and lowered blood triglycerides.

What Are Omega-3s?

I covered the basics of Omega-3s in this post: The Story Of Omega-3s

Fish and other marine life (such as krill) are great sources of omega-3 (or n-3) fatty acids.  These fats are called omega-3s  because the first of several double bonds occur three carbon atoms away from the end of the molecule’s carbon chain.

The three omega-3 fatty acids are alpha linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexenoic acid (DHA).

These fatty acids can’t be made in the body and are considered essential fatty acids that must be consumed in the diet.

Omega-3s And Triglycerides

Omega-3s will definitely help lower triglycerides (How To Lower Triglycerides 93.5% In 21 Days!).

In this study, they report that plant sources of omega-3s do NOT have the same triglyceride lowering effects as animal-based sources (fish and krill oil).


They then list five things that omega-3s help with in regards to cholesterol and triglycerides:

  1. Slows Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLDL) triglyceride synthesis
  2. Decreases apoprotein B synthesis (apoprotein B is a part of “bad” cholesterol)
  3. Helps break down Low Density Lipoproteins (destroys bad cholesterol)
  4. Slows the manufacture of bad cholesterol
  5. Slows fat release into the blood stream after eating

Fish oil also reduces platelet build up at the same time it lowers bad cholesterol and triglycerides…

What does this mean?  Simply that omega-3 supplementation will reduce plaque build up in your blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure and your risk for heart disease.

Plus, the report says that diabetics taking fish oil could improve their blood vessels elasticity without negatively affecting their fasting blood sugar, cholesterol, or blood pressure. Pretty cool stuff!

Omega-3s And High Blood Pressure

Turns out that omega-3s lower blood pressure in people who have high blood pressure, but don’t lower you any further if you are at normal pressure already.

This goes along with my theory that there’s nothing magical about fish oil, it just allows you body to achieve its natural healthy state.  (Though if you look at most people today, that IS a magical benefit!)

Omega-3s And Blood Clots

Can omega-3s help prevent blood clots?  As someone with a family history of blood clots, this topic is of special interest to me…

Omega-3s affect the cellular responses in platelets, monocytes (type of white blood cell), and endothelial cells (lining of blood vessels) – all in a good way!

You may have heard that aspirin is prescribed to help prevent blood clots – well, this report states that when bleeding times are measured, the effects of fish oil are about the same as those of aspirin.

Taking an omega-3 supplement will reduce your risk of thrombosis (clots inside your blood vessels), so if the thought of a blood clot has ever worried you, take some krill oil and have some peace of mind.

Omega-3s And Immune Response

This review didn’t go in depth into omega-3s and immune response, mostly just that it looks promising and needs more research.

I reported on another study that looked at krill oil’s effects on inflammation: The Effect Of Krill Oil On Inflammation And Arthritis

Fish Intake And Coronary Heart Disease

Studies of the Inuit people highlighted their lower coronary mortality compared with their counterparts in areas that didn’t eat as much fish and other marine life.

The Eskimos’ diet included a much, much higher intake of omega-3 from sources such as seal and whale that resulted in the Inuit having lower blood cholesterol, lower triglycerides, lower LDL-C (bad cholesterol), lower VLDL cholesterol (very bad cholesterol), increased HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), increased bleeding times (less risk of blood clots), and lower rates of coronary heart disease.

And in the Diet and Reinfarction Trial, men who were instructed to eat more fish after a myocardial infarction had a 29% decline in mortality rates.

Omega-3s And Sudden Death

The Diet And Reinfarction Trial created interest in the link between increased omega-3 consumption and decreased mortality rates.

A study was done comparing rates of sudden death (from cardiovascular problems) in people who ate a diet rich in omega-3s and in a group following a more standard diet.

The results speak for themselves: The group following a standard diet had 8 deaths, the group consuming more omega-3s had… none!

Another study from the Pacific Northwest found that patients who had a sudden cardiac arrest consumed much lower amounts of omega-3s than their age and sex matches in the community.  The data shows that eating fatty fish (a rich source of omega-3s) is associated with a 50% reduction in the risk for primary cardiac arrest (heart attack).

Omega-3 Conclusion

The heart-healthy benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids are indisputable. Plus they support a healthy immune system, pain-free joints, brain and nerve health, and have anti-inflammatory properties.  The research proves that we can all benefit from consuming foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.

Unfortunately, the best natural dietary sources of Omega 3s – fatty fish – are frequently contaminated with heavy metals and pesticides, making it difficult to safely achieve a consumption high enough to make a difference. Therefore, supplementing your diet with pure, highly refined omega-3s is the best way to protect your health.

Krill oil provides the best quality source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, especially when concentrated and refined to be as pure as possible.  Prograde Nutrition makes an easy-to-swallow soft gelatin capsule that contains no contaminants and will not upset your stomach or give you “fish burps.”

Prograde Icon krill oil will supply you with the essential omega-3s that support your health, in a convenient supplement form and from the most trustworthy sources available.

Click here to learn more about krill oil:

Icon Essential Omega-3s <= highest quality source

And here is the review study referenced in this post:

Circulation. 1996;94:2337-2340
Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Lipids, and Coronary Heart Disease
Neil J. Stone, MD
From the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association

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