What if the next time you go to see your doctor for a check-up, they announce excitedly: “Your cholesterol is at an all-time low. Your blood pressure is excellent! And you’ve lost 20 pounds? Whatever you’re doing is working!”
And so it happens that your doctor who was very worried about your risk for heart disease last year is now beaming with smiles because your results from this year’s medical checkup are phenomenal. Not to mention, you are feeling the best you have in years. What happened?
You started eating more fish.
Here’s the deal. In the most comprehensive study published to date, researchers at the Mayo Clinic analyzed data from 816,000 people and found that eating fish could decrease the risk of heart disease by as much as 18%! But this was not just any old fish- the fish being consumed was high in Omega-3 fatty acids.
As it turns out, when people who were at high risk for heart disease began consuming more Omega-3s, doctors saw a significant improvement in their blood pressure and cholesterol. High blood pressure and cholesterol are major symptoms and precursors to heart problems including heart attacks. And these results were observed without any major changes to the regular diet the participants were taking- except the increase in Omega-3 intake.
Don’t like the taste of fish? Don’t worry. You can get Omega-3 supplements at your local grocery or health food store.
Three things make the Mayo Clinic study an exciting revolution in heart health. First things first, Omega-3 is not impossible to obtain. It is as easy as increasing how much fish you eat per week or taking an Omega-3 tablet each day. Secondly, in the study cited above, the researchers tested the impact of Omega-3 on people who already had high cholesterol and were at a high risk for heart disease.
The evidence was clear- increasing Omega-3 intake reduced the symptoms of heart disease across the board. And these results were obtained from almost a million people! That is a huge amount of data which makes their results believable.
Last but not least, the American Heart Association (AHA) has now approved Omega-3 as prevention for heart attacks in people who have been diagnosed with coronary artery disease. It is the first supplement the AHA has ever approved for heart health. Coupling an increase in Omega-3 intake with moderate exercise and a balanced diet is an excellent recipe for heart health you should be taking seriously.
Apart from affecting heart health, other research studies have found the Omega-3 is essential for other aspects of our health.
- Apart from affecting heart health, Omega-3s can also impact joint pain in rheumatoid arthritis.
- Omega-3s have an impact on depression as well. Researchers have found in cultures where they consume more fish and thus more Omega-3s, there are fewer cases of depression. Furthermore, Omega-3s appear to enhance the effect of antidepressant drugs.
- Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to lower inflammation.
- Omega-3 has also been suggested to be helpful in visual and neurological development.
- Although the data is scanty, there is some evidence that Omega-3 may also have a positive impact on reducing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
What does this information mean for you? It means that by making a crazily simple change to your diet or daily routine – without complex exercise routines or even having overhaul your diet completely – you can improve your heart health and add years to your life.
Here are the current recommendations for increasing your Omega-3 levels.
- You will need to eat two to three servings of oily fish like sardines, salmon, mackerel, anchovies, herring and albacore tuna per week.
- Alternatively, you can take 1000mg of Omega-3 in the form of a supplement per day.
Even though Omega-3 is a natural product it is always a good idea to consult with your physician before you start taking it.
So, Is Omega-3 Good For You?
There’s an old adage that says, “little drops of water make a mighty ocean”. This is especially true when it comes to staying healthy. Huge, dramatic changes are hardly sustainable when it comes to staying healthy. Small and steady changes are easier to stick with and can lead to huge improvements to your health in the long term.