How Omega-3s Help Your Heart
The best fats are smooth, soft, and flexible (omega-3s). The worst fats are stiff and sticky (like lard and marbling in steak). Most illnesses are caused by an accumulation of stiff and sticky fats in your tissues, such as the brain and heart. Here is the simplest explanation of illness and wellness. Dr. Sears calls it his sticky stuff cause of disease. You put stiff and sticky fats in your mouth, you get stiff and sticky stuff in your tissues (illness). You put smooth and flexible fats (omega-3s) in your mouth, and you get smooth and soft tissues (wellness).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 697,000 people in the United States died from heart disease in 2020—that’s 1 in every 5 deaths.1 Cardiovascular disease is the result of plaque (sticky fats, sticky carbs, and other sticky biochemicals) that accumulates on the lining of the arteries. Omega-3s produce an anti-sticky-stuff effect within the blood vessels. Here are seven ways omega-3s help your heart.
Omega-3s Help Lower High Blood Pressure – High blood pressure results from arteries’ getting stiff and stressed. By helping to keep sticky stuff (excess fat deposits) off the lining of the blood vessels, omega-3s help keep the vessels more flexible.2
Omega-3s Keep Your Blood from Getting too Thick – Omega-3s are known as membrane molecules. That’s the way they keep the blood flowing smoothly. When omega-3s get into any cell membrane, especially the blood cell membranes, they create what scientists call cellular fluidity. This means that the more flexible or “fluid” the cell is, the better it is able to perform its healthy functions.
Omega-3s Decrease Platelet Stickiness – Omega-3s attach themselves to other blood cells called platelets and make them behave the way they should. Platelets are millions of microscopic cells that clump together and clot when you get a cut.
Omega-3s Help Lower Lipids – Omega-3s make the receptors on tissues stronger and the surface of the receptors less sticky so that excess cholesterol doesn’t clump to form plaque.
Omega-3s Help Stabilize Arterial Plaques – When plaque builds up on the walls of the arteries, it can do two deadly things:
- A piece of it can break off, travel downstream, and lodge in a small coronary artery or a vessel in the brain, causing a heart attack or stroke.
- It can stiffen the walls of arteries so much that they can’t expand (hardening of the arteries). This raises blood pressure and lowers blood flow.
Omega-3s stabilize plaques, making them less likely to loosen and break off.3
Omega-3s Lower Triglycerides – Research has concluded that omega-3s exert a lipid-lowering effect by both decreasing the liver’s production of triglycerides and increasing the body’s ability to eliminate an excess of these sticky fats.4
Omega-3s Help Heartbeats – Research shows that people who eat more omega-3s tend to have lower resting heart rates.5 Add to this the fact that dietary omega-3s can blunt the heart-rate-increasing effects of stress hormones. Imagine the longevity-enhancing effects of a lower number of beats per minute. This translates into millions of heartbeats saved, less wear and tear on the heart, and perhaps a longer life.
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- Information about the long-running Phyicians’ Health Study is available at http://phs.bwh.harvard.edu/