The science behind omega-3s—especially EPA ad DHA, the omega-3s found in fish—is particularly strong for cardiovascular benefits. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults consume the equivalent of 500 mg daily of EPA and DHA; that people with heart disease consume 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA daily; and that patients who need to lower triglyceride levels consume 2 to 4 grams of EPA and DHA daily.
The reasons why fish oil is so heart healthy are many. In addition to helping lower triglyceride levels, omega-3s from fish oil have also been found to reduce blood clots and improve blood pressure, heart rate and vascular function. On top of that, a recent meta-analysis (a study which compiles data across many studies—in this case 10 randomized, controlled, human clinical trials) found that omega-3 intake was effective in reducing arterial stiffness, also known as hardening of the arteries.
Arterial stiffness is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke. It is the result of atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in the artery wall, and is more common with age. “Reduction in arterial stiffness by omega-3 may account for some of its purported cardio-protective effects,” stated researchers.
Fish oil supplements are not all created equal. The most beneficial omega-3s found in fish oil are EPA and DHA. Be sure you are getting the most of your fish oil—read the label and add up the amounts of EPA + DHA. That’s what you’re looking for when it comes to a good fish oil supplement.