Monday, June 11, 2007

The Benefits of Fish Oil to Your Body

In the past decade, researchers have been studying fish consumption and the benefits it brings to the body. Fish and fish oils have been shown to decrease the negative effects of cardiovascular disease (CVD) on the human body. The way this has been done is through the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. What are omega-3 fatty acids? You'll learn that and more on how they help to treat patients with CVD and those without who may be at risk later in life.

CVD is a big problem in this country. With obesity and diabetes amongst the population at staggering highs, it has become more prevalent. Clogged arteries are leading to strokes and death. Plaque riddled coronary arteries are leading to thromboses and heart attacks. Controlling the diet is the major way to reduce a person’s risk for these types of health problems.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found naturally in fish, their oils, and plants sources, such as flaxseed, canola, soybeans, and the oils of each. There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and alpha linolenic acid (LNA). The first two mentioned have the most benefit on the heart and its health. The last omega-3 fatty acid is found mainly in plant sources. The first two are found in fish that are have a high fat content, but low saturated fat content. This is important. There are good fats and bad fats. Foods that contain fully saturated fats are worse than those fats are mono- or poly-unsaturated. These fish include: mackerel, salmon, trout, and tuna.

The recommended dose of omega-3 fatty acids is at least two to three days a week from natural sources such as those I’ve already named. Consuming fish and plant sources on a regular basis seems to reduce the risk of that person developing the precursors to CVD and its related conditions. Change in diet alone is enough if you have never been diagnosed with any heart related abnormalities.

For those individuals with a history of CVD, fish consumption is also recommended. Depending on how advanced their condition, supplements of DHA and EPA may be prescribed by the doctor. As with any supplements, make sure that you get the doctor’s okay before taking them, because they could do more harm than good if too much is used.

What the research shows to be true is the following:
  • The incidence of blood clots causing sudden heart attacks is decreased
  • Blood pressure lowers
  • Arterial plaque growth is retarded
  • The level of triglycerides in the blood is lowered
  • Decreased level of cardiac arrhythmias

More research still needs to be done to investigate any other properties of omega-3 fatty acids on the body. But, for now, we know that fish and fish oil keep the heart pumping fine.

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