There’s been some debate over the years about whether omega-3s reduce the risk of heart disease. Some studies show they provide a little heart health boost… others show they don’t do a dang thing.
But a new study may put that decades-long debate to rest. Not only does it show that omega-3s offer substantial cardiovascular benefits, but it also shows exactly how these healthy fats help your heart.
Before we dive into this latest study, let’s go over some recent research that’s fueled the omega-3 heart health debate…
In 2018, a review of existing research on the heart-health benefits of omega-3 supplements found that they didn’t provide much (if any) benefit. But two studies published in 2019 found the opposite.
One of these studies found that fish oil supplements reduce the risk of heart attack and coronary heart disease (CHD) by 8 percent. The other study also found that omega-3s provide cardiovascular benefits, but this time the benefits came with one condition — you have to get your omega-3 Index (blood level) to 8 percent or higher.
So, it seems like research in favor of the heart-health benefits of omega-3s is starting to win out. Especially when you add in this latest study…
Omega-3s make positive changes to your cholesterol levels
A new study from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV) in Spain and Harvard Medical School shows exactly how the omega-3s in fish and supplements go to work for your heart.
This study included samples from 26,034 women. According to researchers, this was the largest and most detailed study ever carried out on the connection between omega-3s and heart health.
Researchers were inspired to conduct the study to clear up some of the questions and confusion about whether omega-3s are heart-healthy or not. More specifically, they wanted to investigate a potential heart health threat omega-3s could hypothetically pose.
You see, consuming a lot of omega-3s is tied to lower levels of triglycerides in your blood — which is good for heart health. But it’s also tied to an increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol isn’t great for your heart disease risk because it can cause arteries to harden and lose their elasticity quicker (also known as atherosclerosis).
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Luckily for all the omega-3 lovers out there, researchers found omega-3s are associated with an increase in the large LDL particles. And large LDL lipoproteins aren’t associated with a higher risk of heart disease.
Researchers also found that consuming a lot of omega-3s decreased triglyceride-transporting particles overall, which is good for heart disease risk. And it increased the average size of HDL and LDL particles, which, again, is good for heart disease risk since the small particles are the ones associated with heart disease and heart attacks.
All in all, they determined that omega 3s help regulate the amount of lipids passed on to cells by lipoproteins in a way that reduces the likelihood of atherosclerosis.
How to get more heart-healthy omega-3s
So, it seems like upping your omega-3 intake is still a good idea if you want to keep your heart healthy. Eating more fish is one way to do that. Try to eat fish at least three times per week. Here are few omega-3 packed fish to focus on:
- Wild salmon from Alaska
- Arctic char
- Atlantic mackerel
- Rainbow trout
- Albacore tuna
- Pacific halibut
Of course, if you really want to get enough omega-3s to protect your heart health, it’s probably a good idea to eat fish and take omega-3 supplements. Look for an omega-3 supplement that contains both EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). In fact, before you shop for one, read Easy Health Options’ contributor Craig Cooper’s helpful guide for finding the omega-3 supplement that’s right for you.
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