Want to protect your heart and lower your risk for heart disease? How about avoid a heart attack? Well, while we knew omega-3s were heart healthy new research now confirms eating more foods rich in the fatty acids EPA and DHA could be the key.1,2,3,4
And surprisingly one of the very best sources of these critical omega-3s is a little fish that few of us eat. More on that all too often ignored fish in just a moment, but first let’s take a quick look at the research.
Scientists from the Mayo Clinic recently took a deeper dive into 18 randomized controlled trials and 16 studies involving over 825,000 people. They focused in on cases of heart attack (when blood flow gets stopped to the heart), sudden cardiac death (a sudden and unexpected death caused by a heart malfunction) and coronary death and their link to EPA and DHA.
Slash your heart disease risk
The number crunching revealed that for folks in high risk groups the more EPA and DHA they have in their diet the lower their risk for heart disease is. Specifically people with high triglycerides had an impressive 16 percent less risk and those with high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol had a significant 14 percent less risk.5
And when the studies were looked at alone there was an overall 18 percent less risk for heart disease!
Now let’s get back to that often overlooked fish I mentioned earlier. When most folks think of omega-3s they think of seafood. And they’re absolutely right. In fact, EPA and DHA are only found in animal sources and popular fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and lake trout are rich in both of them. Shrimp are high in these important fatty acids too. And while seafood is the best source for EPA and DHA, omega-3 enriched eggs and grass-fed animals can be good sources too.
Mackerel is bursting with omega-3s
But one of the very best sources of DHA and EPA is the humble mackerel. Sadly few of us regularly include this tasty rich fish on our menu and that’s a real shame because incredibly a single cup of mackerel delivers over 6,900 milligrams of omega-3s.
While smoked, cured, pickled and frozen mackerel is readily available any time of year, fresh mackerel can often be found year round too. Its creamy firm flesh makes it perfect for grilling, barbecuing, broiling or smoking.
If you haven’t tried fresh mackerel before, or your only experience with this fish is the pickled version, it’s time to give this delicious fish a try. Your taste buds, and heart, will thank you.
1. “Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: epidemiology and effects on cardiometabolic risk factors,” Food Funct. 2014 Sep;5(9):2004-19
2. “Update on cardiometabolic health effects of ω-3 fatty acids,” Curr Opin Lipidol. 2014 Feb;25(1):85-90
3. “Omega-3 fatty acids and coronary heart disease,” Curr Opin Lipidol. 2012 Dec;23(6):554-9
4. “n-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jun;83(6 Suppl):1477S-1482S
5. “A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials and Prospective Cohort Studies of Eicosapentaenoic and Docosahexaenoic Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Coronary Heart Disease Risk,” Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Volume 92 , Issue 1 , 15 – 29
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