omega-3Over the past several years or so there has been a lot of research investigating the efficacy of Omega-3 fatty acid supplements.  Animal based omega-3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish like salmon) and plant-based alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 called ALA, found in walnuts, canola oil, and other seeds and nuts) are believed to have many health benefits. For one, they are thought to improve soft tissue.

New studies, in fact, suggest omega-3 fatty acids are “moderately related” to reduced risk for dying from heart attacks.  No major associations have been found, but it is known the body uses Omega-3 fatty acids during specific functions: digestion, cell division, blood clotting, cell growth, and muscle activity.

According to Tufts University’s dean of the Friedman School of Nutritions Science and Policy, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, “Our results lend support to the importance of fish and omega-3 consumption as part of a healthy diet.”  He adds, “At a time when some but not other trials of fish oil supplementation have shown benefits, there is uncertainty about cardiovascular effects of omega-3s,” in a recent university news release.

Of course, any study which reveals a simple thing that could reduce heart attack risk—even slightly, is a good thing. This is particularly important when you consider that approximately 735,000 heart attacks are reported in the United States every year. Furthermore, though, it is also known that a common cause of heart attack is simply a lack of oxygenated blood received in at least one area of the heart.

It is also important to note that neither the seafood-based nor the plant-based omega-3s could be associated with this lower fatal heart attack risk. However, they were found to be connected to an approximate reduction in fatal heart attack risk by as much as 10 percent.

At the same time, studies still can’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

In response to the new data, though, study leader Liana Del Gobbo notes, “These new results, including many studies which previously had not reported their findings, provide the most comprehensive picture to date of how omega-3s may influence heart disease.” The Stanford University School of Medicine postdoctoral research fellow also adds, “Across these diverse studies, findings were also consistent by age, sex, race, presence or absence of diabetes, and use of aspirin or cholesterol-lowering medications.”