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.