Fish Oil and Heart Disease

Research on heart disease and fish oil suggests that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil reduce the risk of heart attack. Other benefits include lowering blood pressure and improving the health of arteries. These findings indicate that 1 gram of fish oil a day can help people at high risk for heart disease or those who already have it.

Can Fish Oil Help People With Heart Disease?

Fish oil is found naturally in the tissues of oily fish, such as:
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Lake trout
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel.
It is also available as a supplement. Fish oil contains two omega-3 fatty acids -- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It is believed that because of these two omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil decreases the chances for a heart attack, along with the overall chance of death from heart disease.

What Are the Benefits of Fish Oil on Heart Disease?

Fish oil has been shown to have several health benefits, including:
  • Decreasing the risk of arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms), which can lead to sudden death
  • Decreasing triglyceride levels by 20 to 40 percent
  • Decreasing blood clots
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Improving the health of arteries.
Because of these benefits, foods with omega-3 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acid supplements, such as fish oil supplements, can bear labels that state their ability to reduce heart disease and the risk of sudden death.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease and Fish Oil

There are a number of risk factors for heart disease, which are conditions or behaviors that increase a person's chances for developing it. Some of the risk factors that can be controlled include:
As mentioned earlier, fish oil can lower blood pressure. However, despite all of the benefits it offers, fish oil does not increase HDL (good cholesterol) or lower LDL (bad cholesterol) or total cholesterol. Fish oil also does not affect fasting blood sugar or insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes, nor does it appear to affect plasma insulin levels or insulin resistance.
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