There's a simple, proven and easy way to reduce the the risk of cardiovascular disease, and that is to increase your intake of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to significantly reduce the risk for sudden death caused by cardiac arrhythmias and all-cause mortality in patients with known coronary heart disease.
Scientists and medical professionals alike now agree that the omega-3 fats can prevent and even reverse the deadly effects of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
A 17-year study of men with no history of heart disease, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that those with the highest blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids were more than 80 percent less likely to die suddenly from heart disease. And the benefits apply to women as well. A 16-year study of almost 85,000 women found that those who ate fish two to four times weekly cut their risk of heart disease by 30 percent, compared with women who rarely ate fish.
A 1999 study called "Food intake patterns and 25 year mortality from coronary heart disease," revealed some very interesting findings about omega-3 fatty acids by comparing the diet of people from America to other regions of the world. The results of this study showed that in countries like Japan, where seafood consumption is high, the prevalence of death from heart attacks is much lower than in America. Scientists believe that this is due to the fact that Asians eat far more seafood than Americans, and 85 percent of Americans are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids.
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids:
- cold water fish (salmon and tuna). Eat a maximum of 12 ounces of fish sources per week (two meals). Stay away from shark, swordfish, ling mackerel or tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.
- fish oil. When purchasing fish oils, make sure they are distilled and enteric-coated for maximum absorption and low-level toxicity.
- flaxseed. The outer husk of flaxseed is very hard and difficult to crack when chewing so flaxseeds should be ground in a coffee grinder, food processor or blender in order for the body to digest them when eaten. If not, whole flaxseeds will pass right through the body undigested and we will not gain any of their nutritional advantage. Once ground, add flaxseeds to your morning cereal, salads, juice, protein shakes or just eat them plain. Ground flaxseeds stay fresh and safe to eat for 90 days.
- omega-3 eggs. Omega-3 eggs are similar in look, taste, storage qualities and cooking versatility as normal eggs. The only difference between omega-3 eggs and normal eggs is that omega-3 eggs are produced by chickens that have been fed with alfalfa, corn, soybean and flaxseeds. An average-sized omega-3 egg contains approximately 320 mg of omega-3 while a regular egg contains approximately 63 mg of omega-3.
- walnuts. ¼ cup of walnuts contains 2.3 grams of omega-3 fats, approximately 91% of the daily value needed for omega-3 essential fats. Walnuts are also a rich source of monounsaturated fat, an important fat necessary in improving cardiovascular health.
In addition to being antiarrhythmic, the omega-3 fatty acids are antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory. In contrast, omega-6 fatty acids, which are present in most seeds, vegetable oils, and meat, are prothrombotic and proinflammatory. Omega-3 fatty acids also are used to treat hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and rheumatoid arthritis.
The American Heart Association recommends consumption of two servings of fish per week for persons with no history of coronary heart disease and at least one serving of fish daily for those with known coronary heart disease. Approximately 1 g per day of eicosapentaenoic acid plus docosahexaenoic acid is recommended for cardioprotection. Higher dosages of omega-3 fatty acids are required to reduce elevated triglyceride levels (2 to 4 g per day) and to reduce morning stiffness and the number of tender joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (at least 3 g per day). Modest decreases in blood pressure occur with significantly higher dosages of omega-3 fatty acids.