Scientific support for omega-3’s cardiovascular and heart health benefits
Most scientific research into fatty acids focuses on ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Their structure is presented in the figure below.
Of particular interest are the molecular mechanisms of omega-3 EPA and DHA that act on the cardiovascular system to the benefit of heart and cardiovascular health. While these mechanisms are still not fully understood, those with the most support are:
- Incorporation into cell membranes and change in membrane fluidity, which in turn influences several process (e.g. reduced production of platelet-activating eicosanoids such as tromboxan A2)
- Lipid metabolism (reduction of triglycerides)
- Antiarrhythmic effect due to hyperpolarization of the cell membrane and modulation of ion channels (inhibition of calcium channels)
- Reduced blood pressure due to stabilization of membranes
- Modulation of immune response and anti-inflammatory processes.
Most of the absorbed omega-3 EPA and DHA play important roles in the body as components of the phospholipids that form the structures of our cell membranes. In addition, they provide energy for the body, as shown below.
Omega-3 with documented effects!
It is well documented that omega-3 from cod liver or fish oils is good for the heart, brain and vision of healthy people. The European Food Safety Authority has thoroughly reviewed all research on omega-3 benefits and has approved health claims for the heart, brain and vision.