There are two main components of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Both of these fats have been shown to improve the health of your heart and other systems in your body.
Together, these beneficial fats have been linked to improvements in brain, heart, eye, and reproductive health.
There is only one problem: People in Western societies – or those living with the influence from the Western world – may lack EPA and DHA from dietary sources.
This may throw off the delicate balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which could pose problems to your overall health.
The Omega-3 Fats, DHA and EPA
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, meaning your body does not produce them, so they need to be obtained through dietary sources.
The most common way to increase omega-3 fat intake: including fresh, wild-caught, cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, or other types, through certain oils, some vegetables, nuts, and through omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.
However, once again, Western diets have ruined a good thing!
Due to the influence of highly processed foods, refined grains, trans-fats, and other harmful nutrients, omega-6 fats levels have increased, possibly leading to many of the common health conditions you see today.
Including heart disease, diabetes, and higher inflammation levels!
Omega-3 fatty acids, according to some studies, have been shown to slow the progression of coronary atherosclerosis (heart disease) and other issues related to the heart.
In one study, the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, were not only shown to slow the progression of heart disease, but were also able to prevent fatal heart arrhythmias and reduce mortality after a heart attack has occurred.
In another study, the use of EPA and DHA, were shown to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate with only a TWO-gram dosage.
This same study showed that pulse pressure – a very good indicator of heart health – decreased with supplementation from omega-3 fatty acid supplements.
EPA and Heart Health
EPA, one of the omega-3 fatty acids, has been shown in research to improve many different aspects of health.
Many studies continue to support the use of both omega-3 fatty acids in prevention of heart disease and other heart-related health conditions.
Due to the fact that your body is unable to produce these beneficial fats, obtaining them from dietary sources is crucial to positively altering the omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio.
Altering the ratio – for the better – may significantly reduce inflammation levels, therefore reducing a risk factor for heart disease.
By increasing EPA and DHA in your body, you may lower your blood pressure, heart rate, and triglycerides, therefore positively altering the health of your heart.
Cicero AF, Derosa G, Di Gregori V, Bobe M, Gaddi AV, Borghi C. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids supplementation and blood pressure levels in hypertriglyceridemic patients with untreated normal-high blood pressure and with or without metabolic syndrome: a retrospective study. Clin Exp Hypertens. 010 Jan;32(2):137-44. doi: 10.3109/10641960903254448.
Angerer P, von Schacky C. n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the cardiovascular system. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2000 feb;11(1):57-63.