Is Fish Oil Good For Your Heart?

Is Fish Oil Good For Your Heart?

If you keep up with health and nutrition news, chances are, you’ve heard a lot about fish oil. We see headlines touting fish oil as the next great miracle supplement, able to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and more…then weeks later, the news is flooded with stories about recent research that suggests fish oil has no measurable effects on heart health, after all.

So, what’s the truth in all this? Is fish oil good for your heart, and if so, what’s the best way to ensure your body is getting enough of it?

We’ve fact-checked the research and summed up the findings so that you can make sense of the confusion and make the best choices for you and your health.

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Fish Oil is Good for Your Heart…Probably!

According to Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury who led a comprehensive review of multiple studies on the effects of fats on the body, fish oil supplements fail to provide any significant benefit on reducing coronary heart disease events such as heart attack, stroke, or heart failure.

However, many of the studies focused on people with existing health problems, measuring the effects of fish oil supplements on reducing the incidence of cardiac related deaths and other heart-related problems in patients who were already ill.

The study also evaluated only fish oil supplements, and not the effects of fish oil obtained from a healthy diet.

While the specific benefits of fish oil supplements are still up for debate, the positive effect of a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (which occur naturally in fish oil) on reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease is well known.

omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3s increase the level of HDL or “good” cholesterol in the body which in turn reduces the body’s level of LDL, aptly nicknamed the “bad” cholesterol.

A 2011 study conducted by Michigan Technological University concluded that fish oil reduces triglyceride levels, improves blood flow, and slows the build up of plaques in the arteries.

Another study discovered that people with stents in their heart had lower incidence of heart attacks when given omega-3 fatty acids, the “good stuff” found in fish oil.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh conducted a study of heart disease rates in Japan, and concluded that heart disease rates are lower in Japan as compared to heart disease rates in the United States primarily due to their higher intake of fish oils.

Heart Health Isn’t the Only Benefit

The Omega-3s found in fish oil aren’t just good for your heart. Omega-3 fatty acids help the body build brain matter, control blood clotting, improve mental health, and otherwise support your overall health and well-being.

Omega-3s are important for a healthy pregnancy, and play an essential role in milk production for the lactating mother. Omega-3s can also help improve memory function, and some research suggests that an adequate supply of these fatty acids can significantly reduce mental stress.

And guess what? Less stress means a reduced risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular issues.

Choose Food Over Supplements

Fish oil supplements are okay if you’re unable to get enough omega-3s in your diet, but it’s much better to obtain your omega-3s directly from the foods you eat.

Oily fish such as mackerel, anchovies, herring, salmon, trout, and sardines are all excellent natural sources.

The average Japanese man eats about 3.75 ounces of oily fish each day. If you’re a vegetarian, you can get your omega-3s from foods such as flaxseed, rapeseed oil, eggs, and dark leafy greens like spinach or kale.

If you do choose to take fish oil supplements, be sure they are properly stored, kept in good condition, and not expired.

The fish oil supplements are often contained within a gelatin casing, sometimes referred to as a gel cap. These casings can become easily cracked and broken as they age, which exposes the contents to air and leads to oxidation.

When a fish oil supplement becomes oxidized, it may actually have a negative effect on heart health instead of the benefits you’re looking for.

Why Fish Oil? Why Not?

Despite contradictions in the findings of researchers aiming to develop a conclusive answer to the question, is fish oil good for your heart, taken overall, the benefits of fish oil are relatively clear.

Aiming for a diet rich in oily fish or other natural sources of omega-3s will provide support and nourishment for both your body and your mind.

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13 thoughts on “Is Fish Oil Good For Your Heart?

  1. I like that you have done research to give readers the information needed to make the best decision for themselves. You have offered diet plans and nutritional information that is very useful to readers. I appreciate all the work you have put into your site. Doing research takes time and you have obviously put in the time to give good research results and information. Keep the most recent information posted and I think you have a winner!

    1. Well okay then Natalie – that’s quite a glowing reference! 🙂

      Thanks for the input…feedback…whatever you want to call it!

  2. Great information! More people need to learn about this especially here in our western culture. I believe fish oil is very beneficial. A heart attack back in 2013 gave me the reality check I needed for change. I had to reevaluate what I was doing wrong with my body. The doctor said that I would have to take heart medication for the rest of my life. This was unacceptable! So I did what I had to do. I quit smoking, stopped eating fast food & started taking fish oils regularly. I prefer cod liver oil myself, but I alternate with Krill and omega 3’s from time to time.

    1. Well I hope you’re doing a lot better now Mark? Sounds like you are on the right track – I gave up smoking myself about 4 years ago…

  3. I thought this was well researched and well written full of data to give the readers enough information to make an educated informed decision, as to the veracity of reports found in the main steam media as well as online.

    Great job! I see what a proper blog is to look like.
    I learned some things that will definitely help me in my article writing journey.

    Thank you!

  4. I used to take fish oil supplements and then one day I just stopped. I should start taking them again.
    My boyfriend used to take fish oil pills religiously. He had a nice set up of daily vitamins to take.
    The only ones I make sure to get in every day are magnesium and my daily multivitamin with iron.

  5. Hello Chris,
    I appreciate the info on fish oil. I have heard the same info, so I decided to eat a lot more fish and I drink daily smoothies with kale and spinach. Just add some pineapple and viola. Done! Everyone with a family history of heart issues needs to be digesting more Omega 3. Off topic here Chris, but I really like your logo and website name.

    1. Cheers Billy – I fiddled around with photoshop and a cheap logo maker for a few days…I quite like the outcome myself! Thanks for leaving this comment mate – glad you enjoyed your stay!

  6. I do not know much about omega 3/fish oil. I have been wanting to take fish oil to help with my brain function and heart but have heard mixed messages from various family members and friends. I no longer knew who’s advice to follow. Reading through your website was helpful. I am now eating fish three times a day and purchased fish oil gel caps. You have mentioned that caps have to be stored correctly. Should I store my fish oil caps in the refrigerator?

    1. No I don’t really think the refrigerator is the best place for them Jacque – just make sure you are using the airtight container they come in! 🙂

  7. I take a fish oil supplement every day. I used to take one that was just called “fish oil”, but now I specifically take one that is a cod liver oil supplement. This has good levels of vitamins A and D in it, which are very important. But fish oil is not just good for your heart, it is also good for your brain. The omega 3 and 6 fatty acids found in fish oil are very good for the health of your brain. One key thing they do is keep your serotonin receptors healthy, which is important for a healthy mood.

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