Say your doctor tells you that your so-called bad cholesterol readings are too high. And he sends you on your way with a prescription to fix that.
But instead of telling you to take one of those statin drugs every day, what if it read, “Bake or broil wild salmon for dinner two to three times a week”?
Well, according to a new study, that salmon Rx may be even better than drugs at lowering your risk of heart disease. And that’s especially true for those most at risk – who most doctors would consider “a perfect candidate” for statins.
In fact, this research discovered that those healthy omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish and other foods, such as walnuts and flax seeds, can benefit your health even more if you’re skating on thin ice when it comes to your heart!
Salmon vs. statins
You might remember your mom or grandmom calling fish “brain food” long before it was discovered that the omega-3s boosted brain health.
But today, those fatty-fish varieties could just as easily be called “heart food” as well.
Previous studies had already shown what the omega-3s (the two main ones being EPA and DHA) found in such fish as salmon, sardines and trout could do for our cardiovascular systems. And the list is a long one — like helping to reduce the risks of abnormal heartbeats, fats in the blood and artery-clogging plaque, as well as lowering blood pressure.
But what about those who already have numerous heart disease risk factors?
In a new study published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a group of researchers from the EpidStat Institute, a research facility in Ann Arbor, Mich., looked at dozens of trials that involved over 800,000 participants. Some of the studies they analyzed included what’s called the gold-standard – clinical trials in which some took omega-3s and some didn’t (and neither group knew which one they were getting).
And what they found is that those who got regular doses of omega-3s, either from food or supplements, had close to a 20 percent reduction in the overall risk of heart disease.
But that wasn’t all.
The researchers also discovered that people who needed it the most, benefited the most! In other words, “high risk” patients in the clinical trials with high triglyceride and cholesterol levels were able to significantly lower their risk of heart disease just by upping their intake of omega-3s – and not just in one aspect. That included reducing the risk of suffering a heart attack, sudden cardiac death, coronary death, and angina.
Of course, what’s at stake here isn’t just how a natural substance can benefit your health. That’s because it’s not really a case of choosing between a statin Rx or a fish oil supplement. In fact, doing absolutely nothing would be better than taking statins.
Recent research has confirmed previous findings that statins can actually set you up for a heart attack and even heart failure. One way is by inhibiting vitamin K production, which in turn can promote calcium buildup in the arteries. Another is to deplete your body of the potent antioxidant CoQ10.
Then there’s the strong link between these drugs and developing type 2 diabetes. I could go on and on with the risks involved in taking statins.
Now, if fish isn’t your dish, experts say that those same heart benefits can be found by taking omega-3 supplements. Experts from the University of Queensland School of Medicine in Australia, who wrote an editorial accompanying this latest study, gave a recommended dose of 1,000 milligrams a day of a supplement that contains both EPA and DHA.
And there are other foods that contain high amounts of omega-3s, including:
- chia seeds (which have even more than salmon), and walnuts,
- grass-fed beef, the nutritional content of which is far superior to conventional beef, and
- cold-pressed flaxseed oil.
One more thing: if you enjoy salmon, make sure you get the wild-caught kind. Farmed varieties, due to the cheap and unnatural diet they’re given, typically contain much lower amounts of omega-3s.
“Here’s even more evidence that fish oil is good for you” Alice Park, January 3, 2017, Time, time.com