The health benefits of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids were discovered in the 1970s by researchers studying the Greenland Intuit Tribe. The Greenland Inuit people consumed large amounts of fat from seafood, but displayed virtually no heart disease. The high intake of omega-3 fatty acids by the Inuit actually showed to reduce heart rate, triglycerides, blood pressure, and atherosclerosis.
Since 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the “qualified health claim” status to EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, stating that “supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA [omega-3] fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.” Healthy ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 are between 1:1 to 1:4. In the modern American diet, the ratio is problematic 1:20. Studies have suggested that the evolutionary paleo human diet, rich in game animals, seafood, and other sources of omega-3, may have provided such a close ratio to omega-6.
Beware of products that promote their healthy “omega-3” content but contain ALA, not DHA or EPA. The body must convert ALA (found in plant oils) into DHA or EPA, and are therefore less effective. DHA and EPA are manufactured by marine algae and are consumed by fish who accumulate it in their internal organs. Great sources of omega-3 fatty acids are: flaxseed oil, arctic krill, sardines, and salmon.
Other benefits of EPA and DHA consumption include the reduction of circulatory problems, such as varicose veins, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiac arrhythmia. There is also evidence to suggest that EPA supplementation is helpful with depression and anxiety. Furthermore, research suggests that increased fish oil intake may reduce the risk of stroke and many studies used significantly higher doses without any major side effects (for example: 4.4 grams EPA/2.2 grams DHA in a 2003 study).
Several studies have reported possible anti-cancer effects of omega 3 fatty acids in breast, colon, and prostate cancer. Omega-3 reduced prostate tumor growth and increased survival rate among mice. Neither long-chain nor short-chain forms of omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with breast cancer risk. High levels of DHA were associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. A 2007, a study of omega-3 fatty acids and cachexia found evidence that oral omega-3 supplements benefit cancer patients, improving appetite, weight, and quality of life. A 2009 trial found that a supplement of EPA helped cancer patients retain muscle mass.
Source by Jason Lincoln Jeffers