Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have positive impacts on heart health.
Studies have indicated that omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce the risk of sudden heart failure.
The Mayo Clinic looked at studies done on omega-3s
, ranking them in categories that included “strong scientific evidence for this use,” and “good” and “unclear” evidence. The heart benefits of omega-3s contained in fish oil were “strong,” the website said.
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“Clinical trials suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may have benefits in terms of reducing total and heart disease mortality (death),” the Mayo Clinic said. “It is believed that omega-3 fatty acids may help lower triglycerides and inflammation.”
The site expanded on the strong evidence for the omega-3s in fish or fish oil supplements reducing triglyceride levels, which can drop as much as 40 percent when a dose of 4 grams daily is taken.
Triglycerides are fat in the blood and are responsible for providing energy to your body. But if you have extra triglycerides, they are stored in case they are needed, and high levels of the fat have been linked to increased risk of heart disease.
The effects of taking omega-3 fatty acids may be increased when taken with statin drugs, such as atorvastatin. “It is unclear how fish oil therapy compares to other agents used to lower triglycerides. Some studies suggest that fish oil may increase LDL levels,” the Mayo Clinic said.
LDL is one type of cholesterol in the body, commonly called the “bad” cholesterol, and the other type is HDL.
The Mayo Clinic also found scientific evidence showing that fish oil has protected people who have struggled with heart problems, helping them to keep from developing new heart problems. “Many studies report that regularly eating oily fish or taking fish oil supplements may help reduce the risk of nonfatal and fatal heart attack, sudden death, and mortality in people with a history of heart attack,” the site said. “There is evidence that an increased intake of fish or omega-3 may be linked to a lower risk of heart failure. These therapies may add to the effects of other treatments, and benefits have been reported after three months of use.”
Although fish oil is sometimes attributed with helping people who struggle with abnormal heart rhythms, the Mayo Clinic’s assessment of the studies around that issue found them to be unclear, but “promising.”
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“Not all studies have found positive results, as some reported that fish oil may be linked to abnormal heart rate in older people and people with a history of some heart problems,” the Mayo Clinic’s website said. “More studies are needed in this area before a firm conclusion may be made.”
Fish oil is not the only source of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oils contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). But there are plant sources that contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which WebMD said converts to omega-3 fatty acids
Most medical studies, WebMD said, use fish oils as the source of omega-3s.
This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.
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