Omega-3 appear to reduce the risk of heart
attack. A 20-year project at the University of Leyden in the
Netherlands, comparing the eating habits of more than 800 men at risk of
heart disease, found that men who ate more than an ounce of fish a day
had a 50 percent lower rate of heart attacks.
Since then, a lengthening list of studies
has shown similar protection among men who eat fish at least two or
three times a week. One possible explanation is that omega-3 reduce
triglyceride levels. Another is that you body converts omega-3 to a
compound similar to prostacyclin, a naturally occurring chemical that
inhibits the formation of blood clots.
Omega-3 also reduce the risk of "sudden
death" heart attach. In the United States, about 250,000 people die each
year from sudden cardiac failure caused by ventricular fibrillation, an
unexpectedly irregular heartbeat. A 1995 study from the Australian
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (Adelaide),
showed that laboratory monkeys fed omega-3 oils from fish had a steady
heartbeat when exposed to electrical current twice as powerful as that
which caused ventricular fibrillation in animals that did not get the
Omega-3 inhibit the production of
leuketrienes, naturally occuring chemicals that trigger inflammation.
This may be beneficial to people with rheumatoid arthritis. In 1995, the
Arthritis Foundation published the results of a study by Piet Geusens at
the Catholic University in Pellenberg (Belgium) suggesting that patients
who take omega-3 fatty acid supplements along with their regular
arthritis medications have improved pain relief. Previous study had
demonstrated the omega-3 ability to reduce inflammation, joint stiffness
Finally, like isoflavones, omega-3 may
protect bone density. One 1997 study at Purdue University (Indiana)
demonstrated that animals fed increased amounts of the omega-3 fatty
acids formed new bone faster than animals fed a regular diet.