Omega 3s for Heart Disease, High Cholesterol and Triglycerides
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is caused by atherosclerosis. This is a process where fatty deposits (plaques) build up on the inside of the arteries that supply the blood to the heart. Eventually the arteries narrow and the heart’s blood supply is decreased or even completely blocked.
Some lifestyle factors are known to contribute to the development of atherosclerosis. The most important ones are diet high in sugar and trans fats, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, diabetes, and smoking.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Heart Health
Studies and empirical evidence suggest that Omega 3 fatty acids can help you prevent the development of heart disease or slow its progression.
Here’s how Omega 3s contribute to heart health:
- They lower blood levels of triglycerides.
- Omega 3-s decrease the bad cholesterol.
- They slow down the rate of plaque buildup in blood vessels.
- They decrease blood pressure (slightly).
- Omega 3-s help prevent serious arrhythmias.
- They alleviate the inflammation throughout the body, including the inflammation of the blood vessels.
- They help prevent blood clots.
Daily Intake Recommendation
The major types of Omega 3 fatty acids in human diet are EPA, DHA and ALA. EPA and DHA are found mostly in fatty fish, while ALA is derived from animal sources, such as vegetable oils, seeds, and nuts.
EPA and DHA are the ones that have been shown the most beneficial to human health. That is why the general recommendation for healthy adults is to eat at least 2 portions of fatty fish per week. The main problem with fish consumption is that fish are often contaminated with environmental pollutants and toxins. That is why it is best to choose small, wild caught fish such as anchovies and sardines.
People who suffer from coronary heart disease should consume more Omega 3-s than the healthy adult population. Just adding fish to their diet might not be enough – they probably need to get an Omega 3 supplement to achieve the needed daily dose of Omega 3 fatty acids.
American Heart Association Recommendation
Since it has been long recognized that Omega 3 fatty acids have beneficial effect on heart health, the American Recommendation has issued the following dietary intake guidelines:
Healthy adults, taking Omega 3-s for prevention
All healthy adults should consume 500 mgs of combined EPA and DHA per day.
People that have coronary heart disease
People with documented CHD should aim to get about 1.000 mgs of combined EPA and DHA per day.
People with high levels of triglycerides
People with high blood levels of triglycerides should start with a daily dose of 1.000 mgs of EPA+DHA per day. They should increase the daily dose slowly, and measure their blood triglycerides every couple of weeks until the suitable therapeutic dose is found. This should be done under supervision of your doctor. The largest recommended dose of Omega 3-s for lowering triglycerides if 4.000 mgs daily.
Australian Heart Foundation has an added recommendation that says that you should be getting aan extra daily dose of ALA (besides the already mentioned EPA and DHA). ALA is the Omega 3 fatty acids that is found in plants sources, such as vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.
Most people that take Omega 3 fatty acids for heart health, high cholesterol and triglycerides won’t be able to reach their daily dose of Omega 3-s through diet alone.
You Might Also Want to Know
There are many things you should know before choosing your Omega 3 supplements – like possible side effects and interactions with any medications or supplements you might be taking, the different concentrations of Omega 3-s in supplements, and how to choose the supplement that best suits your needs. Here are some of our articles that answer these questions:
An overview of common sources of Omega 3 supplements. Discusses the pros and cons of these supplements and emphasizes things that you should be paying attention to when choosing an Omega 3 supplement.
Fish oil supplements are the most popular type of Omega 3 supplements. Learn more about top 7 fish oil manufacturers and decide which fish oil product might be best for your needs - depending on the formulation (EPA and DHA ratio) and potency (concentration of Omega 3 fatty acids).
Learn about the possible side effects of Omega 3 supplementation, how to start with these supplements and interactions with other supplements or prescription medications you might be taking.