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Fish Oils

Besides alpha linolenic acid, there are other omega-3 fatty acids that are very beneficial to your health.

Cold water fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and trout are good sources of eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are needed by human organs - especially useful to the brain. Although your body can manufacture these oils from the essential fatty acids, sometimes the conversion process does not work optimally, so it is beneficial to supplement your diet with these oils directly.

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    Some Studies on Fish Oils:

    Eating fish at least once a week can cut the risk of sudden cardiac death in half, according to a new study led by Dr. Christine Albert of Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital. It suggests that diets that include a "low to moderate intake of fish -- at least one fish meal per week -- (are) associated with a 52% lower risk of sudden death," compared with diets that put fish on the dinner table only once per month.

    The New England Journal of Medicine (1997; 336:1046-1053) This study found a 48% reduction in risk of heart attack death among men who ate about 35 grams of fish per day compared with men who did not eat fish. This finding held true after accounting for differences in age, cigarette smoking, blood cholesterol level, and blood pressure, as well as for obesity, education, alcohol consumption, and many other dietary and demographic factors. That reduction in risk climbed to 67% when nonsudden deaths from heart attack were examined.

    Kremer JM, et al.; "Effects of high-dose fish oil on rheumatoid arthritis after stopping nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Clinical and immune correlates.", Arthritis Rheum, 38: 8, 1995 Aug, 1107-14
    RESULTS. In the group taking fish oil, there were significant decreases from baseline in the mean number of tender joints, duration of morning stiffness, physician's and patient's evaluation of global arthritis activity, and physician's evaluation of pain. In patients taking corn oil, no clinical parameters improved from baseline. The decrease in the number of tender joints remained significant 8 weeks after discontinuing diclofenac in patients taking fish oil and the decrease in the number of tender joints at this time was significant compared with that in patients receiving corn oil. IL-1 beta decreased significantly from baseline through weeks 18 and 22 in patients consuming fish oil. CONCLUSION. Patients taking dietary supplements of fish oil exhibit improvements in clinical parameters of disease activity from baseline, including the number of tender joints, and these improvements are associated with significant decreases in levels of IL-1 beta from baseline. Some patients who take fish oil are able to discontinue NSAIDs without experiencing a disease flare.

    One study showed 12% reduction in cholesterol and a 40% reduction of triglycerides with a 5% rise in HDL on 20 capsules of MaxEPA per day. MaxEPA is a commercial preparation of marine lipids containing 180 mg of EPA and 120 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) per capsule. Such a high dose may not be required for a long-term protective effect, since in epidemiological studies the ingestion of fish a few days per week seems to protect against heart attacks. Salmon oil is high in EPA.

    Pauletto et al., (1996). Lancet 348:784. This study instead of looking at Western groups, took two close villages where one lived by a lake and ate a lot of fish compared to another village up in the hills where the inhabitants were mostly vegetarian (high carbohydrates). Recognizing that there may well be some subtle genetic differences, along with other lifestyle behaviors, the authors controlled for age, sex, alcohol use. The fish eaters averaged about 300 - 600 grams (10 - 20 ounces) of freshwater fish per day. The results are striking. The fish eating group had lower blood pressures. This resulted in less than 1/3 the prevalence of high blood pressure among fish eaters. Total cholesterol was about 12% lower and triglycerides were 35% lower compared to the vegetarians. Blood levels of EPA and DHA were also substantially (2 to 3 times) higher in the fish eaters.

    Bulliyya et al., (1994) Indian J Med Sci. 48:256. This study did a similar analysis to the above study in a region of India. The results are similar in terms of cholesterol levels. Total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL were lower and HDL levels were higher in fish eaters. EPA and DHA levels were also elevated.

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