The Greenland Inuit people,
living by their natural diet, are known to have almost no heart
disease. They, in fact, seem to have superb cardiovascular health.
Further, they seem to suffer far less than Americans or Europeans from rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus and psoriasis.
This is quite remarkable since the Inuit diet is nearly 60% fat – most of that fat coming from fish (fish oil).
Eventually researchers realized that
it was exactly these same foods that provided real disease-countering
benefits. Fish oils contain two very important fatty constituents,
called fatty acids. They are eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA for short, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. These constituents belong to the family of fatty acids called omega-3 fatty acids.
Adequate levels of EPA and DHA are essential to maintaining our cardiovascular system in good health.
Different scientific studies on the oil of ocean water fish have demonstrated that EPA and DHA
reduce the “bad” cholesterol (the low density lipoprotein cholesterol
LDL) and raise the “good” cholesterol (the high density lipoprotein
HDL). These fatty acids assist in lowering blood pressure by helping to
reduce arterial constriction.
They also help lower blood fat, known as triglycerides,
which if elevated can present significant risk for heart disease. EPA
and DHA have also been shown to reduce risk of inappropriate blood
clotting that can also lead to a stroke or a pulmonary embolism.
Beyond the Heart
EPA and DHA also enhance the health of
all other body systems as well. DHA is very important to the brain,
retina, testes and adrenal glands for facilitating optimal functioning.
DHA deficiency in the brain is thought to be an important contributing
factor in many of its functional problems, including depression.
EPA and DHA the Natural Way
Eating fresh ocean fish like salmon,
sardines, tuna, herring, etc. at least three times per week will supply
EPA and DHA in adequate amounts. However if fish or their oils do not
appeal to you, you can turn to flax seed oil, a land-based source of
omega-3 oil. Flax seed oil provides linolenic acid, which needs to be
converted by your body into EPA and DHA. For many North Americans, the
conversion is difficult because of dietary habits.
Fish oil or flaxseed oil will
contribute to blood thinning, and this is desirable. However, if you are
on blood thinning medication or using ASA frequently, check with your
physician first. These oils are contra-indicated in hemophiliacs and
those who have a tendency to hemorrhage.
A Recommended Amount
The recommended amount is 3 capsules
of one gram each of the fish oil per day or as directed by a physician.
If you’re using flaxseed oil, the recommended amount is 9 grams per day
with meals. Oils removed from their natural setting and processed are
subject to oxidation. It is a good practice to complement your use of
supplemental oils with vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant, able to
reverse oxidation of consumed oils and prevent oxidation inside the
body. The recommended daily dosage is 400I.U. of natural vitamin E. If
you are taking blood thinning medication speak to your physician before
using vitamin E.