How Increasing 0mega-3 Fat Intake Can Improve Your Heart Health
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Focusing on your cardiovascular health is necessary to prevent all manners of heart diseases, from arrhythmia and embolism to heart failure and heart attack. There are many preventive measures that doctors and dieticians ask people to take, ranging from a balanced diet to regular exercise. A new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggests that an increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids can provide improved cardioprotection.
Omega-3 for heart health
The study, which was an in-depth meta-analysis review of 40 clinical trials, suggests that an increased intake of two types of omega-3 fatty acids - eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - can significantly reduce the risks of the following heart-related health issues:
- Fatal myocardial infarction by 35%
- Myocardial infarction by 13%
- Coronary heart disease events by 10%
- Mortality due to coronary heart disease by 9%
This study, as well as another one by the Harvard School of Public Health, recommends that your daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids should be between 1,000 to 2,000 mg every day. These should ideally be from food sources, but in case increased intake of omega-3 rich foods is not possible, supplementation with the consultation of a doctor should be undertaken. This type of increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids is a relatively low-cost method of improving heart function.
Other benefits of omega-3 fatty acids
Apart from EPA and DHA, omega-3 fatty acid also has a third type known as alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). The most important thing to know about omega-3 fatty acids is that your body does not naturally make it by synthesizing food. It’s not produced in your body but since it plays a vital function, it has to be procured from other sources. Apart from improving and protecting your heart health, the following are the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids:
- It aids in proper infant development, especially birth weight and cognitive development.
- It improves cognitive function and substantial intake throughout a lifetime can minimise the risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- It helps maintain good eye health and may reduce the risks of age-related macular degeneration.
- It may reduce inflammation and the symptoms of immune-related diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
- It may lower the risks of breast cancer and colorectal cancer. Studies, however, indicate that omega-3 intake doesn’t reduce overall cancer risks significantly.
Sources of omega-3 fatty acids
Including a wide variety and larger amount of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can therefore improve not just your heart health but reduce the risks of other diseases too. The following are the chief sources of omega-3 fatty acids, apart from dietary supplements prescribed by doctors:
- Fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines and herrings and other seafood
- Nuts and seeds, like walnuts, peanuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, almonds and cashews
- Plant oils like sunflower oil, canola oil, soybean oil and flaxseed oil
- Fortified foods like soy milk, eggs, yoghurt, juices and even infant formula
For more information, read our article on Heart disease.
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