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How Fish Oils Can Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 27 Feb 2012 | comments*Discuss
Fatty Acids Heart Disease Omega-3 Fatty

Fatty Acids

Fatty acids are the basic building blocks of fats and oils. Contrary to many popular dietary myths the body does need fat; however it must be the right kind.

The fatty acids that are essential for optimum are called essential fatty acids (EFAs), also occasionally referred to as polyunsaturates or vitamin F.

The body cannot make EFAs so must be obtained from food sources. Every living cell in the body needs EFAs, they are essential for rebuilding and producing new cells, and the production of chemical messengers and regulators called prostaglandins. They also help to maintain healthy hair and skin, reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, prevent arthritis, and reduce the risk of blood clot formation.

There are two basic categories of EFAs; omega-3 and omega-6. Sources of omega-6 are primarily, raw nuts, seeds and unsaturated vegetable oils such as grapeseed oil and primrose oil. There are a number of recommended sources of omega-3, among them are fish oils, flaxseed oil, grapeseed oil and primrose oil.

The daily requirement of essential fatty acids should be an amount equivalent to 10-20% of total calorific intake.

Fish oils

Fish oils are a fantastic source of omega-3 essential fatty acids mackerel, salmon and sardines are particularly high in these substances. Eating oily fish like tuna, salmon or bluefish at least twice a week is a good way to prevent heart disease. Omega-3 essential polyunsaturated fatty acids can also prevent high sodium levels.

Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:

Flaxseed and flaxseed oil are rich in omegs-3 fatty acids as well as fibre, potassium and magnesium. They are also a good source of proteins, zinc and B vitamins. They are also low in saturated fats and contain no cholesterol. The seeds have a pleasant nutty taste and can be added to cereal, salads, yogurt and soups. Flaxseed has been shown to reduce the pain of inflammation from arthritic swelling. It has also been found to lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as reducing the hardening effects of cholesterol on the arteries.

Grapeseed oil is among the highest EFA sources of lineolic acid and among the lowest in saturated fats. It does not contain trans-fatty acids and has no cholesterol or sodium content. Unlike most oils it can be heated to temperatures as high as 485 degrees Fahrenheit without producing carcinogenic free radicals. The best grapeseed oil is cold pressed and contains not preservatives.

Primrose oil (also known as evening primrose oil) is a rich source of omega-6 essential fatty acid. It contains the highest amount of gamma-linolenic acid of any food substance. This fatty acid is known to help prevent hardening of the arteries, heart disease, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis and premenstrual syndrome. It can relieve the pain of inflammation and enhances the release of sex hormones testosterone and estrogen and helps to lower cholesterol levels. Because primrose oil stimulates production of estrogen, women suffering from estrogen related breast cancer should avoid or limit their intake of primrose oil. In this case, black currant seed oil is a good substitute.

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