Researchers from the University of Brescia in Italy gave 133 heart failure patients already receiving standard drug treatment either 2 grams daily of an omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish oil supplement or a placebo. They found that after a year, the heart function of those patients who took fish oil increased by more than 10%. Conversely, the patients given the placebo had a 5% decrease in heart function. Additionally, the fish oil group experienced improved blood oxygenation and exercise capacity, while the placebo group experienced declines in both measures of overall heart health.
These results led the researchers to conclude that, while larger studies are needed to examine whether fish oil supplements might be used to prolong life in heart failure patients, fish oil has great potential to improve their quality of life. “This opens the door for the potential of a natural therapy — so-called macronutrients — in the management of heart failure,” said study co-author, Dr. Mihai Gheorghiade, a professor of cardiology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
This is not the first study to demonstrate the beneficial effects of the omega-3 fats found in fish oil on heart function. Even the American Heart Association, which is generally reluctant to endorse nutritional supplements, acknowledges that omega-3s may play a role maintaining heart health.
A high quality fish oil supplement purified by molecular distillation is the safest, most effective way to get high doses of omega-3s. It’s certainly possible to get omega-3s from food, though not at the therapeutic levels used in this and other studies in which these healthy fats have conveyed powerful effects on health.
Fatty fish such as salmon, cod and sardines are extremely rich in the important omega-3s, EPA and DHA, but unfortunately, they are frequently contaminated with mercury, PCBs and other harmful toxins. Molecular distillation is currently the only known method for removing toxic contaminants from fish oil, while preserving the integrity of its delicate omega-3s. Plant foods such as flax seeds and flax oil, walnuts and spirulina are also good sources of certain omega-3s, though they lack the concentrated levels of EPA and DHA that fish and fish oil provide.