By Michael A. Smith, MDomega-3 fats on heart failure.1
The conclusion of the Harvard researchers was this: Omega-3 fats reduce the total risk of heart failure by 15%. Their paper was published online ahead of publication in the journal Clinical Nutrition. The lead investigator said, “Fish and omega-3 fat should be the first line of defense against heart disease death.”
For all of you research purists out there, ourselves included, the results need to be confirmed with a large, multi-center randomized clinical trial. And we are confident that the results of the meta-analysis will be validated and upheld when this happens.
Omega-3 Goes Up and Heart Failure Goes DownThe Boston-based researchers spent long hours crunching the numbers and came the to the conclusion, involving over 176,000 people, that with every 15 gram increase in fish consumption there’s a subsequent 5% drop in the risk of heart failure.
Now the researchers didn’t stop there. They also looked into the different types of omega-3 fats, in particular DHA and EPA. Here, they found for every 125 mg per day increase in both types, there was a 3% decrease in heart failure risk. So it seems that most of the benefit from omega-3 fats, at least in terms of heart failure, comes from EPA and DHA.
The researchers believe that if their findings are “…confirmed by a large, randomized study, EPA and DHA supplements could be added to the list of lifestyle factors and drugs that can be used for the prevention of heart failure.” That’s a powerful statement coming from conventional doctors!
How Do Omega-3 Fats Actually Lower Risk?The exact mechanism of omega-3 fats’ reduction of heart failure risk is unknown. But the Harvard researchers have put forth some theories:
- They lower vascular inflammation and reduce endothelial cell injury (the cells that line the inside of the vessels).
- They have been linked to lower levels of triglycerides and improved blood lipids.
- They may help to stabilize heart rate.
- They can improve ventricular function (the chambers of the heart that push blood out to your body and lungs).
Recipe: Grilled Tuna with Basil PestoThis recipe is straight from the experts at The Food Network. Hopefully, it will help to get you started with increasing omega-3 fats in your diet. But keep in mind, to reach the optimal dose of omega-3 fats, you probably need to consider a supplement as well. Most people should shoot for about 2–4 grams a day.
- 2 (2-inch thick) tuna steaks (about 1 pound each)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Preheat grill to 400 degrees F.
- Wash and pat dry the tuna steaks. Season with salt and pepper and brush both sides with olive oil. Place tuna on hot grill and sear each side for 2 minutes for rare. If you prefer well done, cook the tuna an additional 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from skillet and let it rest.
- Into the bowl of a food processor, add the garlic, basil leaves, pine nuts, salt, and pepper. Pulse until finely chopped. With the blender still running, slowly pour 1/2 cup of olive oil. Check for a thick, yet smooth consistency, adding more oil if necessary. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan.
- Slice the tuna across the grain and on a bias into 1/2-inch thick slices. Place the slices on a serving plate and drizzle with lemon juice. Sauce tuna with pesto.
Do you have a favorite fish recipe? Please share it with us in the comments below!
- Clinical Nutrition. Published ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2012.05.010.
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