Vitamins and Minerals

Omega-3 For Heart Disease

Science Center

What science says about Omega-3 For Heart Disease

Scientists and medical experts have varying opinions on the role of omega-3 for heart disease as well as other omega fatty acids in the prevention of heart disease.

Some experts support the idea that omega-3 and omega-6 could reduce many risk factors associated with heart disease, such as high triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Several studies indicate that EPA and DHA reduce inflammation and lower triglyceride and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, reducing plaque build-up in the arteries.

However, a recent systematic review of the trials conducted on omega-3 and its role in heart disease prevention shows that omega-3 consumption makes little or no difference to the risk factors affecting heart disease.

Some experts also question the role omega-6 plays in maintaining heart health. They believe it might be harmful because it might promote inflammation, which may increase plaque build-up in the arteries.

They argue that more research is needed to confirm whether omega-3 and omega-6 can help reduce inflammation because the scientific evidence on the anti-inflammatory action of omega fats is contradictory.

Scientists call for more research on the role of omega fatty acids in the prevention of atherosclerosis so they can better understand how they work to treat heart disease.


Opinion in favor of taking Omega-3 to treat and prevent Heart Disease

Supporters of omega-3 and omega-6 consumption for the prevention of heart diseases believe that these fatty acids play an important role in reducing many risk factors associated with heart diseases such as triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Experts also believed omega fats can effectively reduce inflammation that can cause plaque formation which leads to the blockage of the arteries.

Some studies support the claim that omega fatty acids are beneficial for heart health. For instance, the study, “Omega-3 fatty acids for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease,” showed that increasing the doses of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) reduced triglyceride levels and raised HDL (good) cholesterol. HDL cholesterol clears away LDL (bad cholesterol), which prevents plaque buildup and keeps the arteries healthy.

Despite claims that omega-6 is bad for heart health because of its pro-inflammatory effects, a 2019 study showed that omega-6 is beneficial for heart health. In particular, one omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid (LA) “was associated with lower levels of cardiovascular disease” and strokes.

Dr. William Harris M.D., Professor in the Department of Medicine in the Sanford School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota, the author of that study points out that omega-6 and omega-3 both help decrease the risk of heart disease.

Skeptical views about the benefit of Omega-3 for the Heart

Most experts agree that omega-3 fats are essential for overall health. However, many healthcare professionals do not believe the consumption of omega-3 could reduce or prevent heart disease.

Numerous recent studies found that although omega-3 may decrease triglycerides levels, it only reduces them slightly. Thus, the consumption of additional omega-3 makes little or no difference in the risk of developing heart disease.

For instance, the study, “Omega-3 intake for cardiovascular disease” showed that increasing the dose of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has “little or no effect on cardiovascular events such as heart attacks.” Therefore, omega-3 most probably does not affect whether someone develops heart disease.

Other healthcare experts also argue that other omega fatty acids like omega-6 are not beneficial to heart health. They believe that omega-6 has pro-inflammatory properties which may increase the build-up of plaque and contribute to heart disease.

Plus, opponents of the use of omega fatty acids to treat heart disease believe that food sources rich in omega-3 have shown little evidence in reducing the risk of heart disease. They add that omega-3 capsules have even less of a preventive effect.

Therefore, opponents of the use of omega-3 for treating heart disease believe that more evidence is still required on omega-3 and its role in the prevention of atherosclerosis before they can approve its use to treat the condition.

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