Fish Oil and Heart Disease

Much research has been carried out on fish oil and heart disease. On this page you'll find the answers to these important questions:

  • How fish and fish oil protect you from heart disease
  • How does fish oil "thin" the blood?
  • Ten ways fish oil fights heart disease
  • How much fish should you eat?
  • Which fish has the most omega-3 oils?
  • What about fish oil supplements?

How Fish and Fish Oils
Protect You From Heart Disease

clogged arteries can be cleaned up by eating fatty fish

The benefits of fish and fish oil on human health have been well documented.

It's their content of omega-3 fatty acids that is primarily responsible for many of their unique health benefits.

The best known condition prevented and treated with omega-3 fatty acids is heart disease.

It's a fact that seafood eaters worldwide have less heart disease. Even eating a tiny amount of fish can have a monumental effect on your health.

A landmark Dutch study on fish oil and heart disease, found that eating, on average, a mere ounce (or 25 g) of fish a day cut the chances of fatal heart attack in half.

If you could look inside people's arteries, you could see that the healthiest ones belong to fish eaters and the most diseased ones to non-fish eaters.

This is what some Danish researchers did in forty consecutive autopsies.

They measured the fish oil in the fat tissue, which revealed how much fatty fish the individual had eaten while alive.

Undeniably, the smoothest, cleanest arteries belonged to those with more omega-3 fat in their tissue and the most seriously clogged arteries belonged to those who had made the mistake of skimping on fatty fish.

If you have had a heart attack your best insurance against future attacks is to go immediately on a high fish diet.

In fact, eating fish boosts your odds of escaping subsequent heart attacks better than the traditional route of cutting down on foods high in saturated fats.

How Does Fish Oil "Thin" the Blood?

platelets sticking together

Many studies on fish oil and heart disease have demonstrated that eating fatty fish literally changes the shape of blood platelets so they can't lock together to form unwanted blood clots.

When you eat fish oil, your platelets release much less of the substance called thromboxane that instructs platelets to stick together.

Thromboxane creates sticky platelets by stimulating them to swell up into little round balloons and then to grow spikes so that they can intelock with other platelets.

In this state they are called "activated" or "sticky", ready and able to clump together to form blood clots.

So fatty fish, by suppressing thromboxane, preserves the healthy normal disc shape of platelets so they can't cling together and form clots to plug up your arteries.

Ten Ways Fish Oil Fights Heart Disease

  1. Blocks platelets aggregation (clotting)
  2. Reduces blood vessel constriction
  3. Increases blood flow
  4. Lowers fibrinogen (clotting factor)
  5. Revs up fibrinolytic (clot-dissolving) activity
  6. Blocks cell damage from oxygen free radicals
  7. Lowers triglycerides (blood fats)
  8. Raises good HDL cholesterol
  9. Makes cell membranes more flexible
  10. Lowers blood pressure

How Much Fish Should You Eat?

Research shows that eating fish twice a week will provide distinct health benefits.

This translates into approximately 10 to 12 ounces (or 275 to 350 grams) of fish per week, which corresponds to 200 to 400 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per day.

But if you already have a heart condition or you've had a heart attack you should double that amount or even treble it.

Which Fish Has the Most Omega-3 Oils?

different types of fish have different amounts of omega-3 fatty acids

The fattiest fish have the highest concentrations of omega-3 oils.

The best ones are:

  • mackerel
  • anchovies
  • herring
  • sardines
  • wild salmon
  • tuna
  • halibut
  • turbot
  • bluefish
  • trout
  • sablefish

Fish with moderate to low omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • catfish
  • cod
  • dolphin fish
  • flounder
  • grouper
  • haddock
  • perch
  • pike
  • red snapper

Shellfish generally have low levels of omega-3 fats.

So it's important to choose the right type of fish to make sure you get a good amount of omega 3 oils.

For example, 4 ounces (110g) of salmon contains up to 3,600 milligrams of omega 3 fatty acids, while 4 ounces of cod contains only 300 milligrams.

What About Fish Oil Supplements?

fish oil suplements

What if you don't like fish? Or are concerned about contaminants in fish? You can certainly try fish oil supplements.

Be careful when you read the label: if it says 1000mg fish oil capsules, it doesn't mean there's actually 1000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) in them but it will specify the actual amount of each one of them.

Often it will contain 180mg of EPA and 120mg of DHA for one 1000 mg capsule.

An even better source of omega-3 oils is Krill oil - Read more about the difference between fish oil and krill oil.

Having read about fish oil and heart disease now you may want to read more about the other health benefits of fish oil.



Back to Summary of Healing Foods for Heart Disease


What Causes Heart Disease? Can Healing Foods Reverse It?

Reverse Heart Disease with Healing Foods

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