Monday, January 24, 2011

Nothing Fishy About That

Fish oils are weight-reducing and have other healthy benefits such as prevention of fatal and non-fatal arrhythmias, stroke, heart attacks, Alzheimers, depression and as a fringe benefit keeps the skin younger than it years. According to an article published in Lancet, fish oil (Omega 3 fatty acids) stabilized atherosclerotic plaques. Plaque is an accumulation of cells or cell debris that contain lipids (cholesterol and fatty acids), calcium, and a variable amount of fibrous connective tissue. Plaque is an unhealthy condition. Cardiovascular disease is related to plaque in blood vessels.

In half of all first heart attacks, plaque doesn’t block or occlude blood vessels. Plaque, which is inherently unstable, can release fragments that lodge in smaller blood vessels, causing hemorrhaging plus significant and sudden narrowing of the vessel. A clot that forms on top of a leaky plaque may occlude the vessel. Even though it may block 60 percent of the vessel, a stable plaque is not dangerous. By either direct pathologic examination or with assistance of ultrasound, doctors can classify a plaque as being stable (calcified) or unstable (soft).

In a well-designed double-blind clinical trial, a variety of fats were given to 162 patients scheduled to undergo a carotid endarterectomy for advanced arteriosclerosis. One-third of the patients were given Omega 3 fatty acids, another third were given Omega 6 (vegetable oil), and another third were given capsules that contained the mixtures of oils comparable to a typical Western diet. During surgery, sections were taken from the artery and classified by a cardiopathologist as either unstable or stable. The ones who consumed the westernized diet oils or the Omega 6’s had greater than 50 percent more unstable plaques compared to those who were given the Omega 3 fatty acids.

The bottom line is to increase dietary Omega fats by consuming oil bearing fish such as salmon or escolar, and as supplements. Although a capsule may have on the label 1000 or even 1200 mg, the active DHA and EPA may be together only 300mg! So one needs to consume 10 to 20 of them to get a decent dose. Although Krill Oil has been touted to be as good if not better than fish oil, I have found it not nearly as good. Omega 3s are also available in liquids. They are now not only very concentrated but even palatable. Also as noted above sea weed/algae are very high in these healthy oils. After all that is where the fish get theirs. The best Omega 3 is DHA (DexaHexinoic Acid) which is three times more beneficial than EPA (Eicospentoic Acoid). There also is ALA (Alpha Linolenic Acid) from flax and primrose. Although classified as an Omega 3, it is a pre Omega 3 and our metabolisim converts it into the active DHA and EPA if it can. Unfortunately, this is only true if we are young (under 25) and healthy.

Eating a high fat or protein diet is certainly better than eating high carbohydrate foods. But watch the type of fat you eat. It is said that eating one pound of hydrogenated fat will allow you to gain one pound since the body needs to dilute this bad fat by holding onto other fat. One pound of saturated fat will give a weight gain of one-quarter pound, but eating one pound of Omega 3s will cause one-quarter pound of weight loss in that it recycles into your cellular membranes and discharges the previous fat residing there for excretion into the bile. Now one can track their Omega 3s by a special red cell fatty acid test offered by Spectracel. This reflects three months of not only consumption but absorption and utilization of this life prolonging/saving nutrient.

1 comment: