Should We Take EPA and DHA Omega-3 For Our Heart?

Should We Take EPA and DHA Omega-3 For Our Heart?

“Should We Take EPA and DHA
Omega-3 For Our Heart?” According to two of perhaps the most
credible nutrition authorities, the World Health Organization and
the European Food Safety Authority, we should get at least a half
a percent of our calories from the essential short chain
omega 3 ALA, which is easy, just like a tablespoon a day of chia seeds or
ground flax seeds and you’re all set. Our body can then take the
short chain ALA from our diet and elongate it into the long
chain omega 3’s, EPA and DHA. But the question has long been can our
bodies make enough for optimal health? Well, how would you determine that?
Take fiber for example. A convincing body of literature showed
an increased heart disease risk when diets were low in fiber. So
the Institute of Medicine came up with a recommendation for about
30 grams a day, which is an intake observed to protect against coronary
heart disease and reduce constipation. Thus, just as cardiovascular
disease was used to help establish an adequate
intake for dietary fiber, it was used as a way to develop
a recommendation for EPA and DHA. So with reviews published as late as
2009 suggesting fish oil capsules may help with heart disease,
nutrition authorities recommended an additional 250 mg a day of preformed
EPA and DHA, since evidently we were not making enough on
our own if taking more helped. So in addition to the one or two grams
of ALA, 250 mg of preformed DHA, EPA, which can be gotten
from fish or algae. Fish is a toughie because on one hand,
fish has the preformed DHA and EPA, but on the other hand, our oceans
have become so polluted that fish may contain various
pollutants, including dioxins, PCBs, pesticides like DDT,
flame retardant chemicals and heavy metals, including
mercury, lead, and cadmium that can negatively
affect human health. This was an editorial comment
on a recent study on women that found that dietary exposure to
PCBs was associated with increased risk of stroke, and almost three times
higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke. Unless you live next to a toxic waste dump, the main source of exposure to PCBs is fish consumption, of which
perhaps salmon is the worst, though PCBs can also be found in lesser quantities
in other meat sources as well. This may explain why studies
in the U.S. have shown that just a single serving of fish a week
may significantly increase one’s risk of diabetes, emphasizing that
even levels of these pollutants, once considered safe, may completely
counteract the potential benefits of the omega 3’s and other nutrients
present in fish, leading to the type of metabolic disturbances that
often precede type 2 diabetes. Now one could get their 250 mg
a day from algae oil rather than fish oil, which is free from toxic contaminants because it never comes in contact
with anything from the ocean. Then one could get
the best of both worlds, the beneficial nutrients without
the harmful contaminants. But recently it was demonstrated that
these long-chain omega 3’s don’t seem to help with preventing
or treating heart disease after all. And since that’s the main reason
we thought people should get that extra 250 mg of
preformed EPA and DHA, why do I still recommend
following the guidelines? Because the recommendations
were not just based on heart health, but brain health as well. To be continued . . .

38 thoughts on “Should We Take EPA and DHA Omega-3 For Our Heart?

  1. Watched this whilst eating Date balls with ground flax seeds, chia seeds, almond extract and cacao. I've read ALA conversation is helped by vitamins B3, B6, C, and the minerals zinc and magnesium. Chia seeds and dates contain B6 and Vitamin C, Cacao contains B3, magnesium and zinc. Also for every 100 grams there's about 35 grams of fibre. Win? They taste like chocolate flavored marzipan.

  2. Great information, but it's presented way too fast. I had to pause, go back, read and hit play multiple times to get through this video. The spoken words and text don't match up and it's impossible to focus on both at the same time.

    I know you're excited about all the evidence, Dr. Greger! I'm a big fan of Nutrition Facts. I've learned so much from your work and eat a lot healthier food because of this.

    So could you slow down please? : )

  3. I don't eat much fish but I do have a daily fish oil capsule. They're screened and filtered of all the harmful chemicals. I also put ground flax seeds in my cereal/oatmeal.

  4. I have an bad gene of people in my family with oscoses where their bones break really easy and I'm vegan and my mom was talking about how am I going to be able to live without omega 3 and cnow I'm here

  5. EPA+DHA supplements are very expensive though, costing over $30 per 90 pills when flaxseed oil supplements cost $8 for the same amount. Even multivitamins cost around $10. What's the alternative?

  6. I'm confused. I've seen your older videos recommending only flax. Are you now saying we should have algae pills for our brain health?

  7. Hey Dr. Greger. I was wondering if you could shed some light on this article from dr mercola. Love your book. Thanks!

    You would want to choose an animal-based variety – most of the health benefits linked to omega-3 fats are linked to the animal-based EPA and DHA, not the plant-based ALA.

    Furthermore, ALA is converted into EPA and DHA in your body at a very low ratio. What this means is that even if you consume large amounts of ALA, your body can only convert a relatively small amount into EPA and DHA, and only when there are sufficient enzymes.

    Remember, though, that plant-based omega-3 fats are NOT inherently harmful or should be avoided. Ideally, what you want to do is include an animal-based form in your diet. For instance, you can combine flax and hemp in your diet with animal-based omega-3s."

  8. I suggest farmed mussels or oysters, they can only survive in the most pristine waters and have loads more nutrients without the toxicity/detriment to oceans that fishing causes. Also high in B12, iron and selenium among many others including omega-3s.

  9. OK now I'm really confused. Does a high omega 6/3 ratio still increase the risk of a heart attack?.. By the way, thank you for all the info here and on your website!

  10. I heard Hemp seeds are even better they contain chemicals that allow much better
    conversion of EPA/DHA along with GLA which is not found in flax or chia
    or other superseeds.

  11. efter att ha tittat igenom en väldigt massa av dom här klippen. slutsats måste ändå bli att det börjar lukta kvacksalveri.

  12. I had a Triglyceride Level over 800 my doctor had me to go a lipidologist, and she put me on massive does of fish oil. (She said fish oil did not help with general heart health, but in massive doses it could lower Triglycerides. It helped a little. I was using an aweful lot of fish oil. Then I went on a whole plant food diet and eat the daily dozen pretty much every day (with some fasting regime). I stopped all fish oil. My last doctor appointment: My triglycerides were 63. So Fishoil helped a little, but diet helped a lot.

  13. If you buy omega 3 containing capsules (fish oils) that are Molecularly Distilled, it is tested to be free of potentially harmful levels of contaminants (i.e. mercury, heavy metals, PCB's, dioxins, and other contaminants).

  14. Can anyone tell me for someone who hates smoothies how do I get flax seeds into my diet. Dried them with cereal and it sucks. Maybe oatmeal or bread?

  15. Interesting. No mention of wild salmon and sardines which are extremely low in heavy metals and other toxic waste. At least mercury. They just don't accumulate it and if they do, it's very minimal where our body can easily handle and neutralize that particular amount.

  16. He we go again with that dreaded word 'may' may do you, may screw you, may work, may won't kill you, may let you live longer. The favorite CYA word of scientists.

  17. Macadamian nuts and walnuts also would be a good option for vegan but otherwise just eat mackerel or herring if you can't afford wild caught salmon..

  18. consuming algae? Doesn't that have that share the same risks for heavy metal contamination as fish? especially since certain algae's are marketed as a 'dietary supplement', there is literally no industry regulation. stick to whole foods that are easily available (yes even fish or omega 3 eggs)

  19. Dr Greger, there IS way more to taking EPA/DHA from algae than heart disease prevention. I have suffered from dry eyes for YEARS, only to see it get worse and worse over time. No matter what over-the-counter drop or other things or tacticsI tried, it only got worse. Then I discovered a possible connection between dry eye syndrome and deficiency in omega-3 and/or EPA/DHA. I started taking algal DHA/EPA supplement and I noticed significant difference before even making my way through the first bottle. I continue to take it and now I can actually make my way through a major department store without looking like I'm crying my eyes out. In fact, I'm not bothered by my eyes at all. So…we need EPA/DHA for a lot more then heart disease prevention. thank you for your work…it is truly appreciated!

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