Omega-3 fatty acids are essential polyunsaturated fats found in fish, some vegetable oils and some nuts and seeds (like chia seeds and flaxseeds aka linseeds). Interest in these nutrients, related to cardiovascular disease (CVD), arose when the high-fish diet of Eskimos revealed a correlation between omega-3 fatty acid consumption and low rates of heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acid studies have shown decreased mortality and morbidity from myocardial infarctions (big-arse heart attacks), stroke and heart disease.
These fatty acids aid prevention and management of CVD as they reduce blood viscosity, platelet aggregation, fibrinogen and thrombin levels which reduces blood coagulation – in other words, it makes your blood less sticky. It can also reduce constriction of blood vessels by blocking the synthesis of a prostaglandin called thromboxane. So this benefits you by lowering your blood pressure. Which makes your heart even less likely to explode! Yay!
Omega-3 fatty acids have also shown to lower blood cholesterol. Doctors, nurses, the bloke at the pub and crazy health nuts all agree that high cholesterol (hyperlipidaemia) is a significant risk factor for CVD. Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to inhibit synthesis of VLDLs (very low density lipoproteins) and triglycerides in the liver. This blood cholesterol reduction then lessens atherosclerosis (the formation of that shitty gunk on the inside of your beautiful arteries, the sort that go KABOOM and cause doom and/or gloom). Atherosclerosis is also reduced by omega-3 fatty acids via suppression of production of inflammatory mediators such as prostaglandins, eicosanoids and cytokines. This anti-inflammatory effect can also aid other conditions like arthritis and eczema.
So, eat fish and nuts and seeds. Or be lazy and take a top quality fish oil (make sure it is cold pressed).
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