Disease, Heart Health

Why Animal-Based Omega-3s are Best

According to a recent article by Joseph Mercola, M.D., animal-based omega-3 fats are critical for heart health. Dr. Mercola believes maintaining a sufficient level of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may be one of the most important nutritional priorities. People need both DHA, a 22 carbon omega-3, and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), an 18-carbon omega-3 fat. Both plant and animal omega-3 fats are important, but the DHA present in seafood is the type most associated with heart health and other vital health benefits.

Recent studies indicate eating fatty fish and other omega-rich foods, including some plant foods, can reduce your risk of a fatal heart attack by approximately ten percent. When you take them following a heart attack, omega-3 fats can greatly improve your chances of long-term survival. In one study, heart attack survivors who ingested 1 gram of omega-3 fat daily for three years reduced their risk of sudden cardiac death by half.

Another placebo controlled study confirmed that high doses of omega-3s facilitated healing after a heart attack. 360 cardiovascular patients were divided into two groups. The treatment group took four grams of Lovaza, a prescription omega-3 fish oil. The other group received corn oil as a placebo. After six months, the treatment group showed a 5.6 percent decrease in scarring of undamaged heart muscle. Their hearts were also stronger and more able to pump blood.

According to a a report in Reuters:

Some people are better able to absorb and utilize fish oil, and those with the biggest increase in red blood cell levels of omega-3 levels had a 13 percent reduction in leftover blood in the left ventricle, compared to a 6 percent reduction for the fish oil group overall.

Dr. Mercola adds that completely natural forms of omega-3, such as fish oil or krill oil, are much better absorbed by the body. Corn oil, which was used in the placebo, is an industrially processed GMO omega-6 fat that is known to adversely affect the heart.

There are other ways in which animal-based omega-3 fats, particularly DHA, benefit your heart health. These include:

Lowering blood pressure
Lowering triglyceride concentrations
Improving endothelial function (which helps promote growth of new blood vessels)
Counteracting or preventing cardiac arrhythmia
Helping prevent thrombosis (a blood clot within a blood vessel)
Preventing fatty deposits and fibrosis of the inner layer of your arteries
Counteracting inflammation.