More and more, it appears that the fatty acids found in omega-3 fish oils are linked to good heart health. Reputable organizations such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Heart Association (AHA) recognize the heart-healthy benefits associated with the use of omega-3 oils and encourage a diet that includes these nutrients.
The Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) reports that fish oil may not only prevent certain cardiovascular ailments, but also may reduce the risk of cardiac failure in patients with pre-existing heart disease. The data is so promising that the AHA recommends eating fish twice a week or taking a 500-milligram supplement daily for people with a history of or high-risk for coronary heart disease.
Other than good heart health, according to the NIH, omega-3 fish oils were shown to improve high blood pressure. There is also strong evidence that the fatty acids from omega-3 fish oils reduce the level of triglycerides---which are linked to stroke and heart disease---in blood. In addition, the fatty acids are linked with a lowered risk of heart attack. Other studies indicate that fish oils might help reduce stiffness and joint pain in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
Identifying Omega-3 Fish Oils
Omega-3 fish oils can be found in salmon, sardines, mackerel and anchovies. Other sources include canned tuna, flaxseed, scallops, pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts. Many varieties of omega-3 fish oil, some flavored to appeal to children and people who don't like fish, are available at grocery and drug stores. Flaxseed supplements, which are also rich in omega-3 acids, are available for vegans and vegetarians.
Omega-3 fish oils have been anecdotally linked to other health benefits, but there is little evidence to support these notions. These supposed benefits include a reduction in angina, as well as improvements in asthma and atherosclerosis, bipolar disorder, cardiac arrhythmias, and some cancers. In addition, fish oils have been touted to aid patients suffering from dementia, mood swings, attention deficit disorder, depression, eczema and cystic fibrosis. However promising these reports may sound, the NIH asserts that too few clinical trials have been conducted to confirm favorable results connected with these particular claims.
Omega-3 fatty acids might increase the risk of bleeding when taken in conjunction with other drugs or herbs that increase this risk, says the Mayo Clinic. The drugs include aspirin, blood thinners, anti-platelet drugs and NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen. An herb that has been reported to interact with fish oils is ginkgo biloba. Because fish oil might reduce blood sugar, diabetics taking medication should be monitored by a physician. While fish oils can lower triglyceride levels, it should be noted that it can also increase the LDL, or bad cholesterol, levels in the blood. Always seek the advice of a physician when considering any diet alterations or supplements.