The life-saving benefits of omega-3s

If you’re making excuses not to take fish oil capsules — “They’re too big!” “They taste fishy!” (trust me, I’ve heard them all) — this Reality Health Check is for you.

I know I sound like a broken record here, but getting the right balance of omega-3s in your diet is nothing short of life-saving. And a new study just published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings backs me up on that. But I’d argue that the authors don’t go far enough.

The study actually pulled data from two meta-analyses: one of randomized controlled trials and one of prospective observational cohort studies. The study’s authors found that the data in favor of supplementing with omega-3s is compelling. Even very modest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids lower your risk of suffering from a coronary heart disease (CHD) event. Those include heart attack, sudden cardiac death, coronary death, and angina.

Using just the amount recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) — at least 1 gram per day of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — can reduce your risk of having a CHD event, according to the authors.

(Now imagine if they went beyond the bare minimum and recommended the optimal amount — which is 3 grams per day. But I won’t get greedy. We should take the wins where we can get them.)

The meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found that people who get enough omega-3s have a 6 percent lower rate of CHD than those who don’t. The other analysis had even more impressive findings: high intake of omega-3s was associated with an 18 percent lower risk of CHD.

The people who benefit most, according to the study, are those with high triglycerides or LDL cholesterol. I think that’s because those folks likely aren’t eating the right healthy fats and oils and are getting too much sugar and carbohydrates. Those are the culprits that raise triglycerides and LDL, not red meat as mainstream doctors would like you to believe (and especially not grass-fed and finished beef).

Approximately one-quarter of Americans over age 20 have high triglycerides, and about 27 percent of 40- to 74-year-olds have high LDL cholesterol. Though, as I’ve said before, triglycerides are far more important than cholesterol. Still, finding ways to reduce risk in these people is important.

Of course, if they followed the A-List Diet, they wouldn’t have these problems to begin with. But adding a fish oil supplement is something everyone can benefit from.

In related news, the American Heart Association (AHA) just came out with a new scientific advisory related to omega-3s and heart health.

After reviewing 11 randomized controlled trials and 2 meta-analyses, an AHA committee determined that for people with prior CHD, omega-3s can reduce risk of death from CHD by about 10 percent.

But they stopped short of recommending omega 3s for everyone, citing “lack of evidence” in the general population. Of course why would they make a recommendation like that? As a general rule, mainstream American healthcare isn’t interested in preventing problems. They’d rather wait until things have gone wrong and then try to fix them with expensive, side-effect-riddled drugs.

So I’ll take these conclusions a step further, even if the researchers won’t.

The jury is not still out on this one. Omega-3s are safe and they’re good for the heart. And everyone should be taking a good-quality, high-potency fish oil. Your heart will thank you.

If you’re not sure where to start, ask your doctor for the Boston Heart Test and Lipids Profile. It will tell you exactly how you’re doing in terms of getting omega-3, -6, and -9 fats. Then you can work on choosing the right supplements to strike the right balance for you. It’s a simple blood test, and your doctor should have no trouble ordering it for you. I use it all the time with my patients.

In the meantime, for a complete guide to protecting your heart naturally, check out my special report The World’s Easiest Heart Disease Cure. You can learn more about it or order a copy by clicking here.