Eat fatty fish three times a week and take omega-3 supplements to significantly boost your heart health, suggest researchers


Omega-3 fatty acids have been getting good press for years: They’re good for your brain, they fight depression and anxiety, and they can even help reduce inflammation. Now, research shows that getting ample amounts of these vital nutrients promote substantial improvements in heart health.

While the American Heart Association may have changed its weekly fish recommendations to just one or two portions per week, experts say that more is probably better — especially if you’re looking to boost heart health. A recently published study finds that in order to achieve maximum cardioprotective benefits, people should strive for an Omega-3 Index Level of eight percent or higher.

Many people tend to take a “one-size-fits-all” approach to nutrition, but lead researcher Kristina Harris Jackson, Ph.D., R.D., contends that making blanket dietary recommendations are no longer good enough to meet individual nutritional needs.

Do you need more omega-3s in your life?

Published in the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes, and Essential Fatty Acids, Jackson and her team examined blood levels of two omega-3 fatty acids and took dietary surveys, to take a deeper look at what constitutes adequate fish consumption.

Results were gathered from nearly 3,500 participants.

As Integrative Practitioner reports, the researchers found that people who reported no fish intake and taking no supplements had an average Omega-3 Index of 4.1 percent. According to reports, this measure is on par with the average omega-3 levels seen in America.

An Omega-3 Index of 4.1 is also considered to be deficient (of course).

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On the flip side, people who reported consuming fish at least three times a week and also took a supplement boasted an average Omega-3 Index of 8.1 — the amount needed to capitalize on cardioprotective benefits, say the researchers.

Speaking about the study’s findings, Jackson commented, “The AHA currently recommends one to two fish meals per week and it does not recommend supplementation for the general population.”

“In light of our findings, this regimen is unlikely to produce a cardioprotective Omega-3 Index…Having dietary recommendations that aim to achieve a target blood level would likely be more effective at reducing the risk for heart disease,” she continued.

In other words, the current amount of fish and fatty acids recommended by the AHA isn’t really enough to do anything for heart health. If the organization wants to actually achieve public health improvements, making meaningful recommendations would probably be a good place to start.

Other health benefits of omega-3 fats

In addition to promoting heart health, omega-3 fatty acids have many other health benefits to offer. For example, research suggests that consuming sufficient omega-3s can help treat depression and anxiety, as well as help resolve sleeping issues. Studies show that adequate omega 3 consumption helps people fall asleep more easily. Scientist believe DHA, a key omega-3 fat, stimulates melatonin production — a hormone that is essential for your body’s internal clock.

The brain benefits of omega-3s extend far beyond sleep, however. A study published in 2018 found that fish oil supplements made children smarter in just 90 days. At the end of the study period, kids on an omega-3 supplement were displaying marked increases in reading ability and comprehension compared to kids given a placebo pill.

But the benefits don’t stop there: Recently published research also shows that omega-3 consumption can have big benefits for people with diabetes. Evidence indicates that eating enough omega-3s can help reduce inflammation and promote insulin sensitivity in diabetic patients.

These valuable fats can be found in an array of fish and vegetarian sources, as well as grass-fed beef.  Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel and trout, as well as shellfish like oysters and shrimp. For vegetarian sources, consumers can consider flax, hemp or chia seeds, walnuts, seaweed and kidney beans.

Learn more about what you’re eating at Food.news.

Sources for this article include:

IntergrativePractitioner.com

Healthline.com



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