Why Your Heart Loves Omega-3s
A study published in the April 2009 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are associated with lower levels of a marker for inflammation linked to heart disease.
For the study, researchers at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia measured C-reactive protein (CRP) and omega-3 levels in 124 individuals with an average age of 48.
CRP is a protein produced by both the liver and fat cells. It is a well known marker for inflammation and is commonly used to assess heart disease risk.
Omega-3s, on the other hand, have anti-inflammatory properties and are associated with reduced cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.
When the researchers measured CRP and omega-3 levels in the participants, they found that higher levels of omega-3 were associated with a significant reduction in CRP levels.
These results support a number of previous studies which have found a correlation between omega-3s and improved cardiovascular health, and may shed some light on the mechanism behind those findings.
Beyond heart health, omega-3s have been associated with a large number of other health benefits including a reduced risk of cognitive decline and certain cancers, better joint and eye health, and a decreased risk of depression.
Eating more oily fish is one way to increase your omega-3 levels, however, many people have trouble consuming enough of these essential fatty acids through diet alone to see any real health benefits.
For most people, the easiest way to get more of these essential fatty acids is by taking a high quality fish oil supplement. When choosing a supplement, be sure that it is high in EPA and DHA and certified for purity.