Study Shows Both Marine & Plant-Based Omega-3s Benefit the Heart

Marine & Plant Based Omega-3 Heart Benefits 

Good news for vegetarians! 

 Theres already been ample research showing the cardiovascular benefits of consuming Omega-3 fatty acids from fish, but fewer studies on plant-based Omega-3s. If you’re a vegetarian, or you just don’t care for fish, you may have wondered if plant-based sources of Omega-3 have similar benefits. The answer is: Yes! 

 A meta-analysis was recently published  in The Journal of the American Medical Association shows that Omega-3s from both fish and plants are linked to better heart health. [1]

More Omega-3s = better heart health

The meta-analysis analyzed the results of 19 previously published human studies, including a total of almost 46,000 participants from 16 counties. (That’s a lot!) People with the highest levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in their blood enjoyed better heart health than those with the lowest levels.* And Omega-3s from fish and from plants conveyed approximately the same benefit.* 

The study results may be especially reliable because, instead of using food diaries or questionnaires (which are not always accurate), researchers measured blood levels of the Omega-3s EPA and DHA (which come from fish) and ALA (which comes from plants). 

If there was any doubt that Omega-3s are good for heart health, another recent study found that when heart patients took Omega-3 supplements, their hospital stays were reduced. [2]

It’s good to know that there’s more than one way to get the Omega-3s you need, because Americans aren’t big fish eaters. In fact, we’re supposed to be eating one portion of Omega-3-rich fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel per week — yet we eat just a third of that. In countries like Japan, where heart troubles are rarer than in the United States, people eat far more than just one portion weekly 

How to amp up your intake of Omega-3

So how can you amp up your intake? The best vegetarian sources of plant-based Omega-3s include flax seeds, walnuts and canola oil. And the surest way to get them every day is to add some flaxseed oil to your daily diet. Use it as a base for salad dressings, in smoothies or on top of steamed vegetables — and know that you’re doing your heart a favor 

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[1] Del Gobbo LC, et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(8):1155-66.

[2] Langlois PL, et al. Clin Nutr. 2016 May 27. [Epub ahead of print.]