Fish oil contains omega 3 fatty acids which are polyunsaturated fats. These oils typically come from cold water fish such as cod, salmon, tuna and mackerel. These oils have become very popular with researchers as it has come to light that they do not promote clogging of the arteries in the body. They also seem to help to promote heart and cardiovascular heart health as well as reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In 2002, The American Heart Association reviewed its previous dietary advice and updated its recommendations for cardiac health.
They now recommend that people who have no history of cardiovascular disease consume some type of oily fish at least twice a week while adding other oils that contain alpha-linolenic acid such as flax seed oil, sesame seed oil, canola oil and walnuts to their diet. For people who have a history of cardiovascular or heart disease, they recommend that they get at least 1 gram of EPA plus DHA omega 3 fatty acids per day and get them preferably from oily fish. These can be consumed in the form of supplements but if so need to be supervised under the care of a licensed medical professional.
For people who have high cholesterol or triglycerides, the American Heart Association recommends that they get between 2-4 grams of fish oils per day to reduce these levels. They recommend that they get this in the form of a capsule supplement and that their care be supervised by a licensed health care professional.
So what can fish oil add to the nutritional value of your daily diet? Well The American Heart Association found during that study in 2002 that using fish oil in the diet on a regular basis reduced the risk of sudden cardiac demise due to an irregular heart beat. This study was done on people who had a history of prior heart disease or had a heart attack previously. They also found that fish oil definitely reduces the amount of triglycerides in the blood stream while it also thins the blood a certain amount. While lowering triglycerides, they found that it may raise the amount of LDL or bad cholesterol a small amount. It was felt that this was due to the amount of triglycerides that were being dissolved in the bloodstream. However this was not significant enough to warrant concern.
Fish oil also can definitely lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people who have an increased risk of heart disease. This reduces their chance of heart disease in the future. Researchers found in a study that included over 50 diabetic patients taking fish oil supplements that their cholesterol levels were lowered on average 20% when taking fish oil supplements. Triglycerides were lowered as well. The most significant drops in triglycerides were noted in people who had extremely high triglyceride levels prior to starting the fish oil supplements. Researchers found that triglyceride levels dropped on average between 30-35%.
The American Heart Association states that fish oil from fresh fish is the best source of omega 3 fatty acids to date. However since it can be very hard to get enough of that type of fish in the diet, there are supplements both over the counter and of prescription sources that can be obtained for this purpose. The difference between the two types of products is that the FDA does not regulate the over the counter preparations as they are considered nutritional supplements. Prescription oils are pure in source and substance but will have to be prescribed by a medical physician and you would need to be followed by a medical professional to go this route.
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