Can Omega-3 Fats Really Speed Up Recovery After A Heart Attack?

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Omega 3 fatty acids are widely considered one of the healthiest additions a person can make to their diet. But new research shows that it can be especially beneficial to people who are recovering from one of the most serious, and unfortunately, all too common health problems, a heart attack.

A number of people keep thinking that omega fats, since they’re called fats, are actually bad. This is completely wrong. For decades, people have been brainwashed into thinking that eating fat of any kind was terrible for our health and would cause our cholesterol levels to skyrocket, leading to heart disease.

While some types like trans fats are indeed very unhealthy, the truth is that naturally occurring fats are an essential part of the human diet for maintaining optimal health. (Psst — here’s a little secret: Fat doesn’t make you fat either, it’s sugar doing that to you. But that’s a different topic for a different day.)

One of the essential healthy fats is omega-3. It is a naturally occurring fat found in many different foods from both plant- and animal-based sources. Omega-3 fats found in plants are called alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). Omega 3s from animal sources are called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Both of them are classified as long chain polyunsaturated fats.

Of the two, DHA – or omega 3s sourced from animals – has shown greater potential for helping those who have suffered from heart attacks. DHA is found in various meats and seafood, but the best sources are fatty types of fish like tuna, salmon, anchovies and herrings, as well as krill.

ALA – or omega-3 fats found in plants – are the compounds in flaxseed oil, various nuts and seeds, and cruciferous (leafy green) vegetables.

Alternatively, omega-3 supplements such as a high quality fish oil or krill oil are also great choices.

The benefits of consuming the omega-3 fats are innumerate — lowering blood pressure, fighting inflammation, lowering cholesterol to prevent arterial clogging, and decreasing harmful triglyceride levels. It also helps improve brain function, and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

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