Fish-Oil Supplements

The Plan calls for eating fish several times a week. But believe it or not, eating fish regularly is still not enough to give you the amount of omega-3 fatty acids that, according to the latest research, can lower triglycerides, counter inflammation, reduce blood stickiness, and provide other heart benefits. That’s why everyone on the Plan will also take a daily fish-oil supplement. (And if you don’t like fish and aren’t planning to make it a regular part of your diet, it’s especially important that you take this supplement.) Fish oil may have other benefits as well, such as strengthening immune function, staving off depression, helping with allergies, countering inflammation in people with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease, and possibly helping stave off certain cancers.

If you’re worried about having to swallow a yucky-tasting oil every day (maybe you’re remembering taking castor oil as a kid), you’ll be happy to learn that fish-oil supplements are available in capsules.

A Whale of a Good Idea Fish oil wields amazing power to protect your heart, mainly because it’s an easily available and inexpensive source of omega-3 fatty acids, which you read about in Chapter 4. Fish oil may even improve your LDL/HDL ratio in addition to potentially lowering your triglyceride level. In a 2001 Israeli study 52 patients who were taking cholesterol-lowering drugs received either 7 grams of a dietary spread containing ornega-3 fatty acids or an olive oil spread. The participants were also asked to limit the amount of omega-6 fatty acids (found in most vegetable oils) in their diet. Overall, the patients using the omega-3 spread saw their total cholesterol levels drop an average of 12 percent, their LDL levels plummet nearly 17 percent, and their triglyceride levels plunge an impressive 36 percent, The group getting the olive oil spread found their LDL levels dropped an average of about 15 percent, but they didn’t have any significant changes in either their HDL or triglyceride levels.

Some other benefits worth noting: 

  • Studies find that taking 2,000 milligrams or more of fish oil daily can lower triglyceride levels, slow blood clotting, and reduce blood pressure.
  • Combining fish oils with statin drugs may help stave off type 2 diabetes in obese people with high cholesterol. (Statins by themselves have little effect on trglvcerides, which play a distinct role in the development, of diabetes.) 
  • Fish-oil supplements appear to help regulate your heart’s electrical activity, Jowering the risk of heart attack or sudden cardiac death from arrhythmuas, or irregular heart beats.

What to Take, and How Much

Two main types of omega-3 fatty acids make up fish oil: EPA and DHA (don’t worry about the full scientific names). Look for a product that contains both. One product we like is Max EPA. Take 1,000 milligrams twice daily, If you already have heart disease, talk to your doctor about taking higher doses. If you’re a vegan (someone who does not eat any animal products or fish), consider taking flaxseed oil instead of fish-oil supplements. Flaxseed and its oil are excellent sources of omesa-3 fatty acids. Take a tablespoon a day in either capsule or oi! form, or use in salad dressings and cooking, Just don’t take both fish oil and flaxseed oil, since both have blot sd-thinning effects, Because fish-oil supplements can reduce the time If faxes blood to elot, talk to your doctor before taking them if you’re also faking blood-thinning medications like Coumadin (warfarin) or are at high risk for bleeding disorders

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