The American Heart Association recognizes Omega-3's are important for a cardiac health.
Here is what the American Heart Association says on their website about Omega-3's and heart health. :
"Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy people, and those at high risk of — or who have — cardiovascular disease."
From the American Heart Association website here are their direct recommendations:
"We recommend eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times a week. Fish is a good source of protein and doesn’t have the high saturated fat that fatty meat products do. Fatty fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon are high in two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)."
"To learn about omega-3 levels for different types of fish — as well as mercury levels, which can be a concern — see the American Heart Association Encyclopedia entry on Fish, Levels of Mercury and Omega-3 Fatty Acids."
"We also recommend eating tofu and other forms of soybeans, canola, walnut and flaxseed, and their oils. These contain alpha-linolenic acid (LNA), which can become omega-3 fatty acid in the body. The extent of this modification is modest and controversial, however. More studies are needed to show a cause-and-effect relationship between alpha-linolenic acid and heart disease."
The AHA table below is a good guide to use for consuming omega-3 fatty acids.
"Summary of Recommendations for Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake"
"Patients without documented coronary heart disease (CHD) Eat a variety of (preferably fatty) fish at least twice a week. Include oils and foods rich in alpha-linolenic acid (flaxseed, canola and soybean oils; flaxseed and walnuts)."
"Patients with documented CHD Consume about 1 g of EPA+DHA per day, preferably from fatty fish. EPA+DHA in capsule form could be considered in consultation with the physician. "
"Patients who need to lower triglycerides 2 to 4 grams of EPA+DHA per day provided as capsules under a physician’s care." "Patients taking more than 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids from capsules should do so only under a physician’s care. High intakes could cause excessive bleeding in some people."
"In 2002, the American Heart Association released a scientific statement, “Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease,” on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on heart function (including antiarrhythmic effects), hemodynamics (cardiac mechanics) and arterial endothelial function. The link between omega-3 fatty acids and CVD risk reduction are still being studied, but research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids"
* decrease risk of arrhythmias, which can lead to sudden cardiac death"
* decrease triglyceride levels
* decrease growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque
* lower blood pressure (slightly)
"What do epidemiological and observational studies show?"
"Epidemiologic and clinical trials have shown that omega-3 fatty acids reduce CVD incidence. Large-scale epidemiologic studies suggest that people at risk for coronary heart disease benefit from consuming omega-3 fatty acids from plants and marine sources."
"The ideal amount to take isn’t clear. Evidence from prospective secondary prevention studies suggests that taking EPA+DHA ranging from 0.5 to 1.8 grams per day (either as fatty fish or supplements) significantly reduces deaths from heart disease and all causes. For alpha-linolenic acid, a total intake of 1.5–3 grams per day seems beneficial."
"Randomized clinical trials have shown that omega-3 fatty acid supplements can reduce cardiovascular events (death, non-fatal heart attacks, non-fatal strokes). They can also slow the progression of atherosclerosis in coronary patients. However, more studies are needed to confirm and further define the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acid supplements for preventing a first or subsequent cardiovascular event. For example, placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized clinical trials are needed to document the safety and efficacy of omega-3 fatty acid supplements in high-risk patients (those with type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension and smokers) and coronary patients on drug therapy. Mechanistic studies on their apparent effects on sudden death also are needed."
"Increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake through foods is preferable. However, coronary artery disease patients may not be able to get enough omega-3 by diet alone. These people may want to talk to their doctor about taking a supplement. Supplements also could help people with high triglycerides, who need even larger doses. The availability of high-quality omega-3 fatty acid supplements, free of contaminants, is an important prerequisite to their use."
For further AHA information visit the American Heart Association Website where you can find nutritional information on Omega-3 and your heart.
Omega-3's and Cardiovascular Health
Omega-3 help the body to have a healthy cardiovascular system and to have a balance of the processes between Omega-3 EPA and Omega-6 Arachidonic Acid (AA). This is part of what keeps our blood vessels supple and our blood vital and free flowing to supply oxygen and nutrients to our cells.
Atherosclerosis is often called the hardening and thickening of the arteries which is one way heart disease can occur. A healthy diet promotes positive health of the cardiovascular system. A sound understanding of the processes involved helps us to understand why Omega-3 and Omega-6 are important for overall health. There are many mechanisms of action and every day new research reports further ways that the Omega-3's EPA and DHA actually work on a cellular level as part of health. One such way is that Omega-3 EPA provides an balance to Omega-6 Arachidonic acid (AA)and this balance helps our body to regulate inflammation. IN some cases inflammation is useful. Too much inflammation can cause harm in our bodies. A
Damage to blood vessel occurs through a variety of processes. High blood pressure, smoking, poor diet, obesity, excessive alcohol intake are all directly responsible for causing the initiating events of atherosclerosis. The result is a physical injury to the interior surface of arteries.
The next step in the process occurs when circulating monocytes (a cell of the immune system) recognize the injured blood vessel, and migrate to it. Once at the sight of injury, the monocytes make the damaged artery their home, and begin to accumulate oxidatively damaged LDL cholesterol. More monocytes arrive at the site of injury and likewise begin to take up LDL cholesterol. Therefore, monocytes imbedded within the artery lining which have accumulated LDL cholesterol form the “fatty streak”. As these processes progress, the fatty streak becomes the atherosclerotic PLAQUE.
Omega-3 oils EPA and DHA impact this process. How do certain dietary lipids impact this process?:
One of the important ways appears to be by the release of cytokines. Cytokines are hormone- like molecules produced by cells of the immune system. Cytokines need to be in balance of OMega-3 and Omega-6 for health. When we have a cut we want the pro-inflammatory cytokines from Omega-6 to call the white blood cells to the injury, we want platelets to clot and we want pain so we are alerted to having a injury. These actions are helped by Omega-6 cytokines. Omega-6 is essential for life. Omega-3 modulates the Omega-6 cytokines and provides the balance for health. This balance between Omega-3 and Omega-6 is important so our bodies can regulate cellular function for optimal health.
Omega-3's are important to balance Omega-3. We have had an increase in Omega-6 in our diet in the last 100 years combined with a decrease in Omega-3. We have also had a decrease in exercise and an increase in unhealthy fats such as trans-fatty acids. All these factors have worked to increase heart disease.
The good news is that we can affect these factors and increase our Omega-3, increase our exercise and decrease our intake of trans-fatty acids. That is exciting because the benefits are huge for our health and our children's health.
The Omega-3 DHA is tightly held in our cell membranes.
The Omega-3 EPA is in a tiny pool in the cell and EPA is rapidly used in our daily cell activities to balance Omega-3 and provide healthy cytokine function.
EPA must be replenished by our diet.
Omega-6 in white blood cells produce cytokines as a means of attracting more white blood cells called monocytes to the site of vascular injury. Out of balance or without the modulation of Omega-3 EPA, DHA and the positive cytokines released in exercise, “inflammatory” cytokines (derived from Arachidonic Acid- AA) may overdrive the process involved in atherosclerosis.
AA is the Omega-6 predominant lipid used to synthesize cytokines. EPA is the predominant Omega-3 lipid to produce cytokines. This Omega-3Omega-6 balance is important to health. Unless we frequently consume cold-water fish, or take an Omega-3 supplement, the levels of EPA within monocytes will be very low. Taking an Omega-3 EPA supplement results in a 100%+ increase in monocyte content of EPA. !
The cytokines produced from EPA (as opposed to AA) in fact balance the action of AA- derived cytokines, resulting in a significant anti- inflammatory effect. The result is a balance which is part of cardiovascular health.
The ability of EPA anti-inflammatory cytokines to compete with the pro-inflammatory cytokines is one of the ways that high EPA Omega-3 supplements provide benefit.
These cytokine processes also impact mood and behavior. Depressed
individuals, as well as individuals suffering from behavior
disorders (ADD/ ADHD) have increased levels of inflammatory
cytokines in their blood. High EPA Omega-3 supplementation modulates these
molecules as they were made to do. That is why EPA is so important and can have such a positive effect on health and wellness and benefit mood