It is well established that eating fish regularly helps protect against developing heart disease and heart attack. The oils in fish are unique; they have omega 3 fatty acids not found in any other foods. The omega 3s in fish improve heart function and make other conditions that contribute to heart disease less dangerous. For these reasons, the American Heart Association urges everyone to consume fish at least twice a week—especially fatty species such as salmon, halibut and tuna.
Here are some important ways omega 3s from fish help our hearts:
- Maintain normal heart rhythms—When the rhythmic beating of the heart gets out of order, a dangerous pattern of rapid heartbeats can develop, and these can be fatal. Omega 3s from
fish help maintain a healthy pattern of regular heartbeats and make it more difficult for abnormal rhythms to develop.
- Lower chance of having a first heart attack— Omega 3s help the heart by slowing the development of atherosclerosis (clogged blood vessels) and improving heart function.
- Lower blood pressure—High blood pressure or hypertension increases the chance of heart disease and stroke, but can usually be well controlled by medications. High blood pressure is sneaky because it can develop without a person knowing it. People who eat fish regularly consistently have slightly lower blood pressure than those who do not eat fish regularly.
- Reduce the chance of stroke—Blood clots that develop in the brain or are carried to the brain from elsewhere cause strokes and serious disability. People who consume omega 3s regularly are less likely to develop strokes.
- Improve “good” cholesterol or HDL levels
- Improved heart rate adaptability
- Reduce the chance of sudden death
- Better blood vessel function
- More stable arterial plaques
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve the pattern of lipids in the blood