There’s no denying that proper nutrition and a balanced diet are essential for good health. Yet with research on diet and lifestyle recommendations constantly evolving, it can be difficult to make sense of the varying news reports and seemingly endless barrage of information.
Fortunately, when it comes to omega-3s the fundamental science is clear: Omega-3s, which are considered essential fatty acids, are necessary for human health. Since the body can’t make them on its own, it’s critical to obtain this important nutrient through your daily intake of omega-rich foods, primarily oily fish, or supplements.
Let’s take a deeper look at the science behind omega-3s.
With a number of gold-standard studies to point to, experts believe EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid), the two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, help reduce risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The rate of research on omega-3s seems to be accelerating as scientists find consistent evidence of the beneficial effects of this essential nutrient. In fact, of more than 30,000 scientific papers on omega-3s published on PubMed, there are roughly 3,200 clinical trials examining the impact of omega-3s on heart health, specifically.
Here are a few research highlights:
• In the last 10 years, every meta-analytical review that considered the whole body of human clinical evidence for cardiac or coronary death consistently found a significant benefit to omega-3 consumption.
• Since 2004, there have been 13 meta-analyses linking omega-3s and the decreased risk of cardiac and coronary death.
• Results show fish oil consumption reduces cardiac death risk between approximately 10-30 percent.
• A recent meta-analysis on EPA and DHA’s impact on blood pressure found fish oil can reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and even benefit people who don’t have high blood pressure.
The totality of evidence consistently shows EPA and DHA omega-3s reduce the risk of cardiac and coronary death, keep triglycerides in check and help maintain healthy blood pressure. However, it’s important to understand there is not a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to health and disease prevention.
Beyond a healthy and balanced diet, an individual’s age, health status and history, and lifestyle are important considerations when it comes to deciding if supplements may help fill a specific nutrient gap that cannot or is not otherwise being met.
When deciding how to increase your daily intake of omega-3s, it’s important to take an individualized approach. Talk to your doctor about your personal deficiencies and requirements, and be realistic and truthful about your diet and daily intake of omega-3s and other important nutrients. If you decide supplementation is right for you, take the time to do you research and invest in high quality omega-3 supplements. Your health is worth it.