Fish oils are omega-3 fatty acids, also known as EPA and DHA, and have been found to play a significant role in cardiovascular disease prevention1. You can get omega-3s from fatty fish such as salmons, sardines, and cod liver (hence the name fish oil). There are also vegetarian sources available such as flax seed, flax seed oil and chia seeds. Fish oils can also be taken in through supplements, but remember that it is usually better to get nutrition from whole food rather than from supplements, as it is typically absorbed and digested by the body much better this way. Also, fish oil can become rancid so be sure to store supplements properly (liquid fish oil supplements should generally be refrigerated), and keep an eye on expiration dates, too!
The particular article referenced here describes the effect of omega-3 supplement intake on coronary artery disease in patients with high cholesterol. All patients involved in the study were given statin drugs and half of these were also randomly assigned 600mg of daily EPA supplementation, three times per day. Patients’ diets were monitored throughout the course of the study, which spanned a total of five years. At that point patients were re-admitted for a check-up. Patients receiving EPA supplementation of 1800mg were found to have a 19% decrease in major coronary artery events, a 24% reduction in unstable angina (chest pain) and a 19% reduction in non-fatal coronary artery events. Due to the size and extent of this study, we can conclude that the results that were gathered are in fact statistically significant, which leads us to conclude that there can be substantial benefits associated with fish oil supplementation in patients with cardiovascular compromise. An interesting side note for this article is, that the study was conducted in Japan. It was found that Japanese individuals naturally have higher plasma EPA levels in their bodies than Americans1 – reasons for this can vary from diet and exercise to genetics, or likely a combination of these factors. However, there is a chance that this may affect the magnitude of the results that Americans would see with the same amount of omega-3 supplementation – could be more, could be less! If you feel like adding omega-3 to your diet might be a good idea, talk to your doctor about adding some sources or a supplement to your diet. It could very well have a significant impact on your health!
1. Yokoyama, M., Origasa, H., Matsuzaki, M., et al. "Effects of eicosapentaenoic acid on major coronary events in hypercholesterolaemic patients (JELIS): a randomized open-label, blinded endpoint analysis." Lancet. 2007;369(9567):1090-1098.
2. Fleming, Alesha. Natural Health and Wellness Chiropractic. www.nhwchiro.com, Daytona Beach, FL, 2015.