Omega 3s and Heart Disease: What You Need To Know

Poor cardiovascular health is one of the leading causes of death and illness in the United States today, and is quickly becoming a worldwide epidemic. Our unhealthy diet of processed, high-calorie, high-fat foods, combined with increased alcohol intake and tobacco use, pollution levels and our primarily sedentary lifestyles all contribute to poor heart health.

Click here to enter to win a 30-serving bottle of Heart Health Essentials Omega 3 Fish Oil With Vitamin E.

Associated conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart attacks are on an unprecedented rise. You’ve probably thought that these issues are something that plague older people (I once did, too!), but that’s quickly becoming a myth. The American Heart Association now recommends that heart disease prevention should start by the age of 20. Those of us who have high cholesterol, or are at a high risk for heart disease or heart attack are probably used to hearing our doctor talk about these concerns on a regular basis. Traditional medicine tends to lean first towards pharmaceutical options (i.e., statin drugs like Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor, etc.), but even the most conservative traditional doc will reluctantly admit that lifestyle changes really do help improve our health and reduce the risk of heart disease.

In addition, clinical trials have shown that supplementing with Omega 3 fatty acids (found primarily in fish oil) may help to maintain normal levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, support healthy blood pressure and promote normal platelet activity, all leading to lowered risk for heart disease.

Lifestyle Changes Are Vital

Specifically, smoking, drinking alcohol, eating an unhealthy diet and living a sedentary lifestyle are common risk factors for heart disease. Emotional stress can also play a role, and the benefits of reducing it are significant, not just for heart health, but for overall quality of life, as well. Quitting smoking, and placing conservative limits on alcohol consumption can immediately begin to reduce the risk for heart disease.

Increasing your physical activity is also very important. But, remember that exercise, even though it’s good for you, creates a stress on the body, so don’t jump into a full blown exercise routine if you’re not already used to it. It’s important to start slow and build up. Just moving your mass an hour more each week can help reduce your risks. Everyone has to start somewhere, and there’s no shame in starting with baby steps.

Changing old eating habits requires commitment. Making healthy choices about what foods we eat and how much will get us well on the way to reducing the build up of plaque and other heart disease-related issues. If you need help with this specific part, be sure to contact me.

Don’t Ignore Obesity

In today’s politically correct world, it’s seemingly frowned upon to acknowledge that someone’s body composition is less than healthy. We’re told that everyone should feel good about themselves, and be comfortable in their own skin (which they absolutely should) and we’ve even created the catch-phrase “fat shaming” to encourage everyone to turn a blind eye. But, we simply shouldn’t ignore that our friends or family, in addition to being great people, may be carrying around too much disease-causing fat. By not encouraging them to make positive lifestyle changes for fear of hurting feelings we are doing them a serious disservice.

The fact is, obesity is also a leading cause of heart disease, and that has nothing to do with whether Sally should be wearing leggings or whether she’s attractive enough to be on the cover of a magazine. When someone is obese (32% or more body fat for women, and 25% body fat or more for men according to the American Council on Exercise), they have an increased risk of heart disease and a whole host of other medical issues. Increasing physical activity and making positive dietary changes is essential for them to begin to move towards a longer lifespan. Like reducing stress, making changes in these areas also positively impact other areas of our health.

What If Lifestyle Changes Aren’t Enough

For some people, lifestyle changes are enough to significantly lower cholesterol and improve their overall health. But, many of us (myself included) need additional support when it comes to doing battle with heart disease. Proper supplementation can be very beneficial, and is a vital component along with the lifestyle changes we’ve already discussed. You’ve probably laughed at the phrase, “Getting old ain’t for sissies,” but in actuality, it’s pretty true. Studies have shown that as we age, our nutrient levels tend to decline. The foods we eat (even the good ones) aren’t as nutrient rich today as they were a decade ago, and our aging bodies don’t hold on to many protective nutrients as well as they once did.

Our cardiovascular system needs quality supplementation as part of our daily routine. Specifically, Omega-3 Fatty Acids are essential. Essential. Yes, that’s right. And, it’s not just a word I chose because it sounded good in the sentence. In this case “essential” means that they aren’t made by our body, and must be acquired from the foods we eat. Now, we’ve already said that our foods aren’t as nutrient rich today, but there’s also the issue of whether or not we’re even eating the foods that contain Omega 3s. Oily fish and, to a lesser degree, foods like flaxseed, chia seeds, some nuts, spices like basil and oregano and broccoli and spinach contain Omega 3s. So, unless we’re eating A LOT of these foods (primarily the fish), we probably need to supplement from another source.

Aren’t All Omega 3s The Same?

The research that connects Omega 3s with slowing the growth rate of plaque, maintaining normal blood flow and lower blood pressure is based on the use of between 1,000 and 3,000 milligrams of Omegas. It’s pretty easy to tell how much Omega 3 is in a product, because most manufacturers plaster it right on the front of the bottle. You’ll find that most products contain between 1,000 and 2,000 milligrams, so you’re set, right? Well, not so fast. Just because a certain amount is in the supplement doesn’t mean that we’ll absorb it all, so we want to look for a product that’s got minimal fillers and binders.

Another caveat is that the research was also based on supplementing with the two most important types of Omega 3s: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). This is where the real problem comes in. Plant sources rarely contain these essential forms of healthy fat, so that limits us to eating fish. So, for most of us, that means we need a supplement. Unfortunately, not all supplements available on the market today contain adequate levels of these specific types of Omegas. That 2,000 milligrams boasted in the company advertising frequently contains only 100 milligrams of EPA and DHA. Definitely not enough.

Each of those “good fats” have different functions ranging from fat metabolism to cell inflammation and even brain signals. So, if our cells aren’t getting what they need, they can’t function at the optimum level, and eventually, they just break down. Not good for overall health, wouldn’t you say?

Picking A Quality Supplement

So, unless we’re eating oily fish several times a week, it’s pretty obvious that we need to be supplementing. We know that we want to make sure that there’s several thousand milligrams of Omega 3s, and that a huge chunk of it is coming from EPA and DHA. What else?

Consider the source of the Omega 3s. Quality products will get their Omega 3s from the best contaminant-free fish oils. This means that they’re going to use smaller, cold water fish (like sardines and anchovies, for example) which have a shorter lifespan and therefore have less opportunity to accumulate toxins. We also want to know what the quality control process is like. A stringent purification process, as well as frequent testing of every batch at various points throughout the manufacturing process are key to ensuring that the end product is of a high quality.

Here’s a comparison of several of the leading Omega 3 supplements currently available:

Comparison of leading brands of Omega 3 supplements

The Good News

We can start our improving our heart health today by making eating healthy and being active part of our daily routines. Proper supplementation will reduce risk factors and help with the treatment of heart disease and related conditions once they are diagnosed. The best thing about improving or maintaining cardiovascular health is that baby steps are still great progress. Small changes can add up to big results. Take a walk instead of having a cigarette, try a green salad instead of fries, drink water instead of soda or simply skip salt. You can do it! I believe in you. And, if you need accountability, contact me. I’m here to help!

Giveaway Time!

omega-3-250-wideThe product I recommend for supplementation is Heart Health Essential Omega III Fish Oil with Vitamin E. As you can see from the chart, it’s the only product on the market with high marks for all of the factors associated with the creation of a quality Omega 3 product.

To encourage you to get started with proper supplementation, I’m hosting a giveaway of one 30-serving bottle (a $35 value).

  • Each daily serving provides 3,000 mg of fish oil, including 1,800 mg of EPA and 1,200 mg of DHA
  • Helps enhance mood
  • Helps maintain healthy levels of C-reactive protein (a measure of inflammation)
  • Helps maintain normal blood flow
  • Helps maintain normal cholesterol levels
Helps maintain normal triglyceride levels in the blood
  • Promotes healthy blood pressure levels

So, what are you waiting for? Click below to enter to win! Be sure to complete the optional items for more chances to win. And, to make it truly a giveaway, I’m covering the cost of shipping and sales tax. Be sure to share this post and the giveaway with your friends and family. I’ll be using Rafflecopter to pick a winner at midnight on December 10, 2015. Good Luck!

~Coach Teresa

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tom Gibson