OMEGA-3s TO THE RESCUE OF YOUR HEART
March 13th, 2013 by Lyne Quesnel, ND
Towards the end of the 70’s, scientists noticed that the Inuits in Greenland and the Japanese, who had a diet rich in essential fatty acids, were much less affected by cardiovascular diseases including heart attacks. Since then, 4500 studies have been done to clarify the beneficial role of these Omega-3 fatty acids on our health. They protect the arteries of the heart, regulate blood pressure, help to maintain the elasticity of the blood vessels, reinforce the immune and anti-inflammatory systems and help in the aggregation of blood platelets.
Canadian medical authorities estimate that men should consume 1600 mg of Omega-3s and women 1100 mg per day. However, after recent discoveries on their virtues, some experts estimate that even more would be better, especially in cases of heart disease. Even though occidentals have a large diversity of foods in their diet, the majority of them shy away from eating fish and therefore do not get sufficient amounts of Omega-3s. (1) Also, as the consumption of fish declines, the use of transformed foods rich in omega-6s is on the rise. It is estimated that the omega-6/omega-3 ratio in occidental diets ranges from 10/1 to 30/1 when it should be somewhere between 1/1 and 4/1. This excess of omega-6 decreases the optimal effectiveness of omega-3s in the body.
VALORIZING VERSUS SCIENCE
Researchers and lecturers have deplored the fact that omega-3s are not more widely used and valued by doctors. Conclusive and proven studies, based on epidemiological and experimental data, are accumulating about their protective effects on cardiovascular health. It is not for a lack of scientific conviction that they are not being used, but rather on a lack of knowledge on the subject. In certain countries however, such as France, Belgium, Italy and Germany, it is accepted that prescriptions for omega-3s are reimbursed following a heart attack.
VEGETAL OR MARINE SOUCRES OF OMEGA-3?
Foods and supplements of Omega-3s originating from marine sources provide a more direct source of essential fatty acids than Omega-3s from vegetal sources. Even though grains and flax contain omega-3s in the form of alpha-linolenic acids (ALA), scientists maintain that it is a substance that is only mildly (2% to 10%) transformed by the body into EPA and DHA.
CHOOSING AN OMEGA-3 SUPPLEMENT
Optimal concentrations of EPA and DHA in Omega-3s, under liquid form, are more easily assimilated and integrated into a glass of juice or foods (smoothies, salads, yogurt).
Look for products containing ingredients that provide a pleasant taste, help digestion, do not have a fishy aftertaste and that naturally protect the product from oxidation (rosemary, vitamin E, ginger).
Choose a product that is laboratory tested and exempt of contaminants or heavy metals. Always remember that fish from a higher rank in the food chain (large fish that eat smaller fish), through the virtues of bioaccumulation, are more likely to contain high levels of pollutants such as mercury. Be vigilant and choose foods or supplements from smaller fish (anchovies, sardines, mackerel), to avoid eating high levels of mercury.
Land Art offers a good range of Omega-3 formulas, in liquid form or practical softgels.
N.B. Before using supplements, it is important to consult with your health professional. Your particular health situation may influence the proper treatment to follow.
(1) Survey initiated by the Lucie and André Chagnon Chair for an integrated approach to prevention at Université Laval, and the Unité de recherche en santé publique du CHUL