Mechanism Behind Heart Health Benefits of Omega-3s Unearthed
Numerous studies dating back to the 1970s have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids may have serious heart health benefits but no one has been sure of the exact mechanism behind those benefits until now. Researchers have discovered that omega-3s may help heart health because they favorably influence heart rate variability and vagal function.
Heart rate variability refers to the amount of time between heart beats and how it can be different. Vagal function relates to the functioning of the vagus nerve, which is our longest cranial nerve. It brings energy to the throat, thorax, abdominal muscles, heart, and other important organs.
This meta-analysis included 15 studies that focused on the effect of fish oil on heart rate variability. It found that fish oil supplementation significantly improved heart rate variability when compared with a placebo. This improvement was indicated by enhanced vagal tone of the individuals taking fish oil.
The study was conducted by researchers at the Chinese PLA General Hospital in Beijing and the Medical College of Nankai University in Tianjin. It was published in the May 2013 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Omega-3s have been linked to a number of health benefits, including improved brain health, alleviating arthritis pain, better moods, improved joint mobility, helping with age related macular degeneration, and aiding your immune system.
Because omega-3 fatty-acids are not found naturally in the human body, 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, walnuts and now, possibly, yogurt.