The Wrong Omega-3 Fatty Acid from Supplements May be Increasing Risk of Heart Disease or Maybe Not?

Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acid.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in seafood, such as salmon and other oily fish, and are found in supplements. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are the primary components of supplemental fish oil or omega-3 found in bottles. Studies show that one helps tremendously, and the other may cancel the good effects of omega-3 fatty acid.

Seafood

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/omega-3/art-20045614. I love salmon. I eat it at least once a week. I was not always a fish eater. I did not particularly appreciate eating fish that tasted or smelled like fish. It seemed that was all my mother could afford when we were growing up. I am the oldest of nine kids, and you can imagine our weekly grocery bill.

Regardless, I tried a few different kinds of seafood over time and found that not all seafood tastes or smells like fish. Once that door opened, I started tasting lots of different types of seafood. Some were pleasant surprises, and others were immediately removed from my list of acceptable fish to eat. Some tasted OK, but had too many bones, like pike I ordered in a restaurant in Prague, Czech Republic.

Regardless, salmon, sardine, Atlantic mackerel, cod, herring lake trout, and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acid. Four ounces (the size of a deck of cards) are recommended twice a week. Grilling, broiling, and baking are preferred options. I pan fry salmon with a mixture of butter, coconut oil, and olive oil (about one ounce of each) for a fillet weighing a pound and a half. Salt, pepper, and cayenne, along with a bit of lemon and butter, make my salmon super tasty.

Latest Study

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/heart-health-not-all-omega-3s-are-equal A study done two years ago discovered high amounts of EPA (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmoa1812792) alone reduced triglyceride levels and reduced the risk of many cardiovascular issues.

However, similar patients (high triglycerides) treated with a carboxylic acid formulation of omega-3 fatty acid (a highly purified mixture of 15-25% DHA and 50-60% EPA) did not see significant reductions in triglycerides. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2773120. The conclusion was that DHA interfered with the healing power of EPA alone https://www.jacc.org/doi/pdf/10.1016/S0735-1097%2821%2902811-4.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Heart Health

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/omega-3-fatty-acids-and-the-heart-new-evidence-more-questions-2021032422213. We have been led to believe that omega-3 fatty acids reduce cardiovascular issues. The American Heart Association has been hyping the value of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce heart disease for over twenty years. The link above points out a meta-analysis of over ten studies regarding omega-3 fatty acids and heart health and shows that omega-3 fatty acids lower the risk of heart disease.

How can years of studies and testing and subsequent FDA approval be wrong – that only one of the two primary components of omega-3 fatty acids is good the other is not?

Fish or Pills?

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-22370-2. It seems that this group of studies support both EPA and DHA and another group of studies shows different results. Who is correct? The topic of omega-3 fatty acids and heart disease has been a hot topic of debate (both sides of the equation) for many years.

Could part of the problem be the composition of the populations being studied? Maybe. A recent omega-3 fatty acid review of 35,000 blood samples yielded nearly a thousand randomly selected cases for a detailed review of EPA and DHA levels in the blood. The average age was just over 61, with over 40% of this group suffering from obesity and severe coronary artery disease.

Was the selection of a group of patients to examine who had obesity, severe coronary artery disease, and over 60 years of age the best choice? Probably not? Maybe it was the most accessible data to access? The analyses showed that nearly one-third of this group died from a heart attack, stroke, or heart failure with ten years.

The people with the highest levels of EPA in their blood were less likely to have a significant cardiovascular event. Those with higher DHA levels were more likely to suffer substantial heart failure than those with high EPA levels.

The final report recommended people eat omega-3 rich foods but defer from taking omega-3 supplements. The study did not reveal whether the group members were getting dietary omega-3 or supplemental omega-3 fatty acids. I would think this would have been important.

Conclusion

The conjecture of whether omega-3 fatty acids are good or bad bubbles to the surface every few years. This group of studies supports omega-3 fatty acids and heart health. Other analyses of fish oil and heart health derive different results. The supplement industry supports analyses that show EPA and DHA improve heart health.

I can buy omega-3 fatty acid in pill form that has only EPA. It is a bit more expensive and not that difficult to find. When I choose the dietary option and look at the amounts of EPA and DHA, I find that DHA is nearly always higher than EPA in fish. For example, the ratio of Atlantic salmon is 1.24/0.59 DHA/EPA for three ounces. Herring has a 0.94/0.77 ratio. Sardines show a 0.74/0.45 ratio. Mackerel comes in at 0.59/0.43. And trout rolls in with a 0.44/0.40 ratio.

I noticed a salmon option in the Orient and Europe that I do not find in the States – salmon pasta. I pan fry about two pounds of salmon. The larger sections of the salmon filet are flaked and added to the pasta. The other half is hand-blended into Alfredo sauce to make a salmon sauce. If you love the flavor of salmon, it is a wonderful experience.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com

 


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