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Harvard Study Finds Omega-3's Protects Against Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation, the most common irregular heart beat found in adults, increases the risk of congestive heart failure and stroke. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health conducted the first study to examine the effects of omega-3 essential fatty acids on the heart rhythms of more mature adults. They found that omega-3's could reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation.

The study was published January 26, 2012, in the journal Circulation.

Study participants included 3,326 adults with an average age of 74. Between 1992 and 2006, 789 cases of atrial fibrillation were identified. After adjusting for risk factors, the researchers noted that the individuals with the highest intake of both total omega-3 essential fatty acids and DHA had a 25% reduction in the risk of atrial fibrillation.

In general, each 1% higher intake level of total omega-3 essential fatty acids was associated with a 9% decreased risk of atrial fibrillation. The researchers did not, however, note any association between EPA and DPA levels and atrial fibrillation.

In addition to heart health, omega-3s have been linked to an impressive number of health benefits, including improved brain health, alleviating arthritis pain, better moods, improved joint mobility, helping reduce the risk of age related macular degeneration, and aiding your immune system.

Because our bodies cannot make omega-3 fatty-acids, it is especially important to make sure that they are a part of your daily diet. Oily, dark fish such as tuna and salmon are high in DHA and EPA omega-3s, while ALA omega-3 fatty-acids are plant derived and can be found in flaxseed oil, vegetable oil, and walnuts.

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