Omega 3 fatty acids – Surely you have heard of these? Many of us who live in the western world are probably already taking supplements that contain omega 3 fatty acids in order to enhance our health.
Over the years, a lot of research has been conducted that has shown omega fatty acids, particularly omega 3 fatty acids to have a number of different health benefits when consumed on a regular basis. Omega 3, 6 and 9 have gained a reputation for protecting vital structures such as the heart, brain, nerves and skin.
While many of us recognise the benefits, not a lot of us really know how good it can be for us. Here, we take a look at the benefits of omega 3 in protecting the heart.
Omega 3 Fatty Acid Benefits For Your Heart
Omega-3 fatty acids are obtained from two dietary sources: seafood and certain nut and plant oils. Fish oils and animal sources contain the ecosapentanoic acid variety of omega 3 fatty acids, while flaxseed oils, walnut oils and soybean contain the alpha linolenic acid type of omega 3 fatty acids.
The fish derived fatty acids tend to be more potent than the nut and seed derived fatty acids. However, given a large proportion of us are vegetarian, seed and nut derived omega 3 fatty acids seems to have great benefits.
How Do Omega 3 Fatty Acids Protect The Heart?
There are a number of published studies and ongoing studies that have shown that omega 3 fatty acids can protect your heart and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. From the available clinical data, then appears to be a number of different benefits which have been listed in the table below.
As you can see above, taking the recommended quantity of omega-3 fatty acids on a regular basis can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. This is done so through a variety of different mechanisms such as a reduction in the overall triglyceride level and a reduction in atherosclerosis.
Endothelial cells are small cells that line the blood vessels. They are responsible for the production of a gas called nitric oxide which helps improve blood flow to the heart and all vital structures.Poor endothelial function is seen in those who have diabetes, high blood pressure and in those who are overweight. Omega-3 fatty acids appear to improve endothelial cell function and in the long-term this can prevent the development of heart disease.
How Much Omega-3 Fatty Acids Should You Consume Regularly?
While the ideal amount of omega-3 fatty acids we must eat regularly has not been clearly defined, clinical trials have made suggestions regarding what would be best to prevent cardiovascular disease.
For those taking fish-based omega-3 fatty acids, the recommendation is around 0.5 to 1.8 g per day. This can be taken through intake of fatty fish or supplements. If you are looking to get this quantity through your regular diet, the American Heart Association recommends the consumption of oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and salmon at least twice a week. those who have evidence of underlying coronary artery disease
For those who wish to consume seed and nut based omega-3 fatty acids, the recommendation is around 1.5 to 3 grams per day. There no clear quantification of food items that will guide you regarding reaching this daily amount.
Maintaining A Balance Between Omega 3 and Omega 6
There are other kinds of omega fatty acids. These include omega 6 and omega 9.
The current recommendation is that when taking omega fatty acid supplements, make sure you take one that has more omega 3 than omega 6. Some bodies have suggested keeping a 4:1 ratio of omega 3 to omega 6.
Flaxseeds contain a higher proportion of omega 3 compared to omega 6. Soybean oil, sunflower oil and sesame seeds have a higher proportion of omega 6.
The greater the omega 3, the better the supplement.
Choosing The Right Supplement
If you are vegetarian or are someone who does not get sufficient amount of omega 3 through fish, then you may want to look into a using a supplement.
Cod liver oil based supplements are many and are freely available online. Vegetarian supplements are a few, and ayurvedic supplements such as the Biovit omega 369 seem to provide quality omega 369s for the heart.
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