JUL 11, 2016 9:31 AM PDT

Omega-3 Fatty Acids to Fix A Broken Heart

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
Are you eating enough salmon and walnuts? They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which scientists have clearly shown to decrease the risk of fatal heart attacks in a recent study.
Credit: www.thenutritionalsource.com 
A partnership between Stanford University School of Medicine and Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science brought forth a study that depicts a clear connection between omega-3 fatty acids and their protective effect over the heart. Scientists from the study analyzed data from over 45,000 patients in 16 countries, finding consistent results across multiple factors such as age, sex, race, presence or absence of diabetes, and use of aspirin or cholesterol-lowering medications. Leader of the study Liana C. Del Gobbo, PhD, said that their research provides “the most comprehensive picture to-date of how omega-3 [fatty acids] may influence heart disease.”
According to the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, a public-private partnership of multiple corporations, universities, and healthcare organization that focus on phytochemicals in produce, exercise physiology, and personalized nutrition, the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fish and plants. Fish like salmon, trout, and herring are great sources of certain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA, and DPA) while plant sources like walnuts, flaxseed oil, and canola oil are dense with ALA omega-3 fatty acids.
The compilation of results analyzed in the study showed that all kinds of omega-3 fatty acids and their sources provided a 10 percent lower risk of fatal heart attacks. Compared to people with very low levels of fatty acids in their blood and tissues, people with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids showed to be at a 25 percent less risk for dying from a heart attack. Additionally, the researchers showed that none of the omega-3 fatty acids were associated with a risk of nonfatal heart attacks.
The study, published in JAMA Cardiology, is a monumental move forward for scientists striving to build a list of ways to reduce fatalities from heart complications. Cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death worldwide, and the American Heart Association counted 801,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease in the United States in 2013 alone. Taking steps to reduce your risk of heart disease is as easy as incorporating more fish and more plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids into your regular diet.

Sources: Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus, NC Research Campus, American Heart Association
About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
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