Fats, Fish Oil and Omega-3-Fatty Acids

In the United States, today most lead generally sedentary lives if not lazy lives, they are not the active hunter-gatherer lifestyle our genetics were designed for. The American diet today is high in saturated foods, trans fats, and foods rich in grains and refined sugars. The modern diet is also poor in omega-3 fatty acids. The combination of sedentary life and this modern diet is the prime cause for our epidemic of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary heart disease.

Animal Studies

In studies involving animals, omega-3-fatty acids were found to prevent ventricular fibrillation when given to animals just prior to experimentally induced heart attacks. Omega-3-fatty acids were found also to terminate ventricular fibrillation in animals suffering experimentally induced heart attacks. Therefore scientists suspect that omega-3-fatty acids may prevent ventricular fibrillation of the heart in event of a heart attack in humans.

Two large, long-term observational studies have been published on the relationship between dietary intake of fish oil and omega-3-fatty acids and risk of heart disease and sudden cardiac death: they are called The Nurses’ health study and the Physician’s health study.

The Physician’s health study began in 1982 when more than 20,000 healthy male physicians were followed for 11 years. Life style, coronary risk factors and diet data were collected at entry, and life style and diet data were collected via questionnaires at 12 months and 18 months. The results of the study were published in JAMA 1998, vol 279, p23. The title of the article is “Fish consumption and risk of sudden cardiac death”. The study found that men who consumed one or more fish meals per week had a 50% lower risk of developing sudden cardiac death than men who rarely ate fish (less than one fish meal per month).

In another study, scientists compared blood levels of omega-3-fatty acids in 94 men who died of sudden cardiac death against living men matched for age and smoking habits. They found that high levels of omega-3-fatty acids in the blood were associated with low risk of cardiac sudden death. Men with the highest blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids had an 80% lower risk of sudden cardiac death than men with the lowest blood levels. (High omega-3-fatty acids in the blood is usually due to a high consumption of fish).

The Nurses’ Health study began in 1976, when more than 80,000 female nurses completed life style and diet questionnaires. They were followed for 16 years for the development of coronary heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acid intake was determined from the questionnaires. The result of the study was published in JAMA vol 287. No.14, p 1815. Researchers discovered that compared to women who rarely ate fish (less than one fish meal per month), women who ate fish once a week had a 29% lower risk of developing coronary heart disease. Those who ate fish five times a week had a 34% reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease and a 45% reduction in the risk of death from heart disease (usually sudden cardiac death).

Today, there are numerous studies that point to benefits of consuming Omega-3 Fatty acids. Should you or someone you care about have high cholesterol and/or want to take preventive measures to protect the heart, contact Dr. Gary Eshanov at 973-900-2660 and schedule a consultation.