If you’re looking at your heart health, one of the best places to start is by looking at your omega-3 intake. New research shows that higher doses of omega-3 (EPA+DHA) may provide optimal heart health support.
Evidence supporting this claim led the American Heart Association (AHA) to recommend that individuals with poor cardiovascular health consume a minimum of 1 gram of omega-3s from fish or fish oil capsules per day.
The AHA also recommends that people without heart problems consume at least two servings of oily fish per week—equivalent to roughly 500 mg per day of omega-3 EPA+DHA. Fatty fish includes sardines, pilchards, mackerel, fresh tuna, trout and salmon.
Consuming 500 mg of omega-3 per day is difficult for many. Data shows that about 80% of Americans are not even meeting the minimum daily target of 250 mg recommended. Tuna, trout and salmon are all expensive sources of omega 3, in some cases it may be more cost effective to supplement. Or perhaps sardines and pilchards are not a preference due to taste aversions.
Whatever the reasons, we could clearly be doing more to support our heart health. Consuming more fish just isn’t an option for many but, taking a fish oil supplement can help.
Another reason to consider supplementing is that some people need a much higher dose. Certain health factors may lead to lower omega-3 levels in the body. For instance, researchers recently found that omega-3 blood levels were much lower among overweight individuals than normal-weight individuals—despite both groups having an equal dietary intake of omega-3s.
This would suggest that some people need to consume omega-3s in much higher amounts to achieve the blood levels necessary for supporting heart health. Again, getting these amounts by consuming oily fish alone is simply not possible for most of us, and supplementation might be the only option.
Top 5 Heart Health Benefits of Omega-3
1. Supports healthy platelet activity
Platelets are small cells in the bloodstream responsible for blood clotting. When injury occurs, these tiny cells coordinate by sticking together to form clots. While blood clotting is vital for tissue repair, chronic elevations in platelet activity may lead to poor cardiovascular health.
An extensive analysis of several studies reported that individuals taking omega-3 supplements had significant platelet activity reductions compared to the placebo group. These results suggest that omega-3 intake plays a vital role in supporting healthy platelet activity.
2. Promotes artery health
Excess buildup of fat, cholesterol, and other blood substances can lead to plaque buildup and poor artery health.
Results in a study evaluating the effects of omega-3 on artery plaque in those with poor artery health, suggest that levels of omega-3s within the body need to reach a certain threshold to maintain optimal heart health. Notably, this evidence also indicates that doses greater than roughly 3500 mg per day are needed to make a significant difference in heart health among those with unhealthy arteries.
3. Helps maintain healthy levels of triglycerides
Triglycerides are an important type of fat (lipid) in the blood that help support the body’s energy needs.
However, excessive amounts of these blood fats may lead to poor cardiovascular health. Several studies show that supplementing with omega-3 fish oil supports healthy triglyceride levels. A recent review from the American Heart Association also found that 4000 mg per day of omega-3 EPA can promote healthier triglyceride levels by 30% or more among people with high amounts of blood fats.
4. Helps maintain healthy blood pressure
Research shows that individuals with healthy blood pressure also tend to have higher omega-3 blood levels.
When responding to stress, healthy blood vessels dilate (expand), which increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure. In contrast, individuals with poor blood vessel dilation have an increased risk of cardiovascular events. Many studies report that omega-3 fatty acids help maintain healthy blood pressure ranges by supporting artery dilation.
5. Attenuates resting heart rate
The number of times your heart beats per minute while at rest is an indicator of cardiovascular health.
A resting heart rate between 60-100 beats per minute (bpm) is considered normal, but some experts believe ideal rates range between 50-70 bpm or less. In fact, people with resting heart rates over 70 bpm are more likely to have artery narrowing, high blood pressure, and many other cardiovascular problems. In contrast, people with the highest fitness levels typically have healthier arteries and resting heart rates below 60 bpm. People with a higher dietary intake of omega-3s also tend to have lower resting heart rates. And research suggests that a higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids supports a healthy resting heart rate.
To conclude, based on the research, consuming at least 2000 mg of omega-3s (EPA+DHA) per day can provide adequate cardiovascular support for most people.
However, we encourage you to speak with a healthcare professional about the dosage implicated by your specific heart-health needs.
Source: Nordic Naturals
Written by: Adin Smith, MS