Omega 3, Clogged Arteries and Atherosclerosis
The question about why middle-aged Japanese men have fewer incidents of clogged arteries compared to American men has often been asked. One reason could be in the Japanese diet which researchers say is rich in omega-3 fats.
Research also revealed that middle-aged Japanese men have double levels of omega-3 fats than their American counterparts. There also appears to be a lower incidence of atherosclerosis among middle-aged Japanese men living in Japan.
Atherosclerosis and Omega-3
What is Atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis is a condition that develops when an individual has excessive build-up of plaque inside the arteries. Plaque is a substance that consists of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other elements found in human blood. When there is too much plaque inside the arteries, CAD (coronary artery disease) develops and can lead to other diseases like heart attacks and strokes. Interestingly enough, the National Institutes of Health said that plaque build-up is common among multi-ethnic groups, but is higher among Caucasians.
Japanese people consume about 1.3 grams per day of omega-3 fats compared to the 0.2 grams per day consumed by Americans. Studies seem to indicate that a healthy heart is, by and large, a result of a diet rich in omega-3 sources, and not necessarily a question of genes. One characteristic of the Japanese diet is that it is abundant in omega-3 sources, which explains why the Japanese do not suffer from heart disease as much as Americans do.
Another interesting point: Japanese-born people who have lived in the United States for many years are not spared; they are likely to develop heart trouble due to the fact that they have adopted the practice of eating the same foods that Americans do.
Ensure You're Getting Sufficient Omega-3
Let's make a distinction: the American diet is rich in omega-6 fats and not omega-3 fats. Omega-6 fats are sourced from vegetable oils like corn or canola. Omega-3 fats on the other hand are sourced from fish and fish oils - two types of food that most Americans do not include in their daily meals. Omega fats are pro-inflammatory.
To give you an example of just how much the American diet is rich in omega-6 and omega-3 fats: the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 20:1. For maximum health benefits, that ratio should be closer to 1:1. The Japanese in Japan eat a lot of fish (three servings a day) compared to two servings per week for Americans.
It is no surprise then why chronic inflammation is so common in the west. Chronic inflammation of the body happens when there is a higher amount of omega-6 fats - the equivalent of poor nutrition. To avoid any potential health problems, this "malnutrition" must be addressed immediately. Many scientists are of the opinion - and this opinion is justified - that the reason people suffer from diseases like hypertension, diabetes, heart trouble, pre-mature aging and some types of cancers - is precisely the low amount of omega-3 fats.
Omega-3 fats: Benefits
People often ask, "What exactly are the benefits of omega-3 fats"?
The benefits are numerous.
- They help prevent cardiac arrhythmia (a condition where the heart beats too slowly or too quickly - also known as an abnormal level of electrical activity in the heart).
- They help prevent thrombosis (when blood clots in the blood vessels)
- They help minimize fatty deposits from forming in the arteries
- They have therapeutic qualities for pain, heat or swelling
- They promote or aid in the development of new blood vessels
- They help lower or stabilize blood pressure and last (but not least), they reduce the number of concentrations of triglycerides.
If there is a wide gap between your omega-6 and omega-3 fats, you can begin by increasing the amount of omega-3 fats and decreasing the omega-6 fats in your body. Fish oil supplements are the best way to increase your omega 3 intake. But make sure they are molecularly distilled.
Excellent Sources of Omega-3 Fats
When studying omega-3 fats, you will learn about ALA - alpha linolenic acid. ALA is transformed into EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA inside the body, required for efficient physiological functioning especially in the brain and eyes. But one thing stands out: both DHA and EPA can help prevent cardiovascular and other chronic disorders.
Since alpha linolenic acid is converted into negligible amounts of EPA and DHA in the presence of certain enzymes, you need to get ALA from omega-3 sources such as fish and fish oils.
Ideally, we would get our omega-3 fats only from natural sources - this means eating a lot of fish. However, there is a risk of mercury contamination involved when eating too much fish because of environmental pollution and industrial waste. In fact, health advisories have been issued about discouraging children, pregnant women and nursing mothers from consuming too much fish.
The next best thing? Increase your intake of omega-3 by taking supplements. Dietary supplements are usually manufactured in compliance with food and drug regulations; moreover, the toxins have been removed or have been purified through a process called molecular distillation.
The simplest way to explain molecular distillation is to say that certain substances go through a chemical process where they are distilled in a high vacuum at the lowest possible temperature. This ensures that their composition is not compromised, damaged or altered.
Substances are subjected to an operating temperature but only for a limited period of time. The process enables the transfer of high heat, the absence of certain hotspots and continuity in operation. The method of molecular distillation eliminates impurities that are normally not eliminated by traditional refining procedures.
For example, if fish oil has to be molecularly distilled, peroxide and other bacteria have to be removed as well as undesired excess moisture, toxic substances and unnecessary fatty acids. Molecular distillation achieves all these without lowering the quality of good fatty acids contained in fish oil.
When your fish oil dietary supplement has been through a process of molecular distillation, you know you are getting a supplement of the highest quality.