More and more Americans are taking their fish oil and eating cold-water fish as part of a healthy diet. Fish oil is made up of fatty acids called EPA (eiosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) that are part of the polyunsaturated omega-3 anti-inflammatory pathways in your body. These two fatty acids are important to cell membranes which ultimately help heart electrical conduction and tone.
According the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death followed by cancer and accidents. It is also highly preventable and recent research shows that taking fish oil or eating fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, or anchovies can help fight heart disease by reducing the risk of:
1) atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
2) arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
3) heart attack (myocardial infarction or MI)
4) sudden cardiac death
5) heart failure
Omega 3 fatty acids are made by microalgae in the ocean which are then eaten by cold-water fish. The oil is deposited into their organs and stored in their fat tissue. When choosing your fish oil, make sure it is free of heavy metals, pesticides, and herbicides and that the manufacturer tests every batch for freshness. There are two forms of fish oil: the triglyceride form and the ester form. Studies lean towards the natural triglyceride form as being more digestible, but the ester form is cheaper to produce.
If you puncture your fish-oil pill and it smells rancid, then you have a bad batch. It should smell naturally like clean fish.
For the best heart benefits, take enough fish oil such that you are receiving at least 500 milligrams of EPA and DHA. Your total omega-3 may read 1000 milligrams or more; however it’s the actual EPA/DHA numbers you add up. When choosing to eat fish as part of your healthy diet, go for wild caught or farmed and free of dyes and chemicals.
1. Lavie, C. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Aug. 11, 2009; 54:585-594.
2. Lawson, L.D.; Hughes, B.G. (October 1988).