Skip to content

    Heart Disease Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Fish Oils May Be Lifesavers

    Fatty Acids in Fish Might Save More Lives Than Defibrillators, Experts Say

    Omega-3 Sources

    Kottke's computer model was based on omega-3 fatty acids from fish.

    But omega-3 fatty acids aren't just in fish. Other sources include walnuts, flaxseed, canola oil, broccoli, cantaloupe, kidney beans, spinach, grape leaves, Chinese cabbage, and cauliflower.

    Still, "fish oil has a lot more omega-3s than flax, and that's the same with … walnuts," Kottke tells WebMD.

    Fish oil supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids are another option.

    If you eat fish two or three times weekly, do you still need supplements?

    "Probably not," Kottke says. "It appears that that's adequate and that the benefit actually comes at fairly low levels of consumption."

    Supplements aren't regulated as strictly as prescription drugs. So, if you opt for that source of omega-3, do your homework and choose a high-quality supplement from a reputable company.

    If you do decide to take fish-oil pills, tell your doctor. That way, your doctor can keep track of all the medicines and supplements you're taking.

    Not a Cure-All

    Kottke stresses that his study didn't directly test omega-3 fatty acids in actual people to prevent sudden death. Such studies are being done in Italy and the U.K., he notes.

    Eating fish or taking fish oil pills won't make up for smoking, inactivity, and other heart hazards, Kottke warns.

    "We need to prioritize nutritionnutrition and physical activity right up there with brushing our teeth," he says.

    His short list of lifestyle tips:

    • Don't smoke.
    • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
    • Limit saturated fat.
    • Get enough physical activity - for example, taking 10,000 steps per day (a pedometer can help you keep count).
    • A limited amount of alcohol may also be healthy (maximum one drink a day for women, two drinks for men).
    • Eat a small amount of nuts regularly.

    Kottke says he sprinkles almonds, banana, and peaches on his breakfast cereal. His evening snack is a glass of wine and some almonds instead of cheese and crackers.

    "Nuts are very good for you," Kottke says. But nuts are high in calories, so don't overdo it.

    The bottom line: Your daily habits -- including what you put on your plate -- matters. "It makes a huge difference," Kottke says.

    1 | 2

    Today on WebMD

    x-ray of human heart
    A visual guide.
    atrial fibrillation
    Symptoms and causes.
     
    heart rate graph
    10 things to never do.
    heart rate
    Get the facts.
     
    empty football helmet
    Article
    red wine
    Video
     
    eating blueberries
    Article
    Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
    Slideshow
     
    Inside A Heart Attack
    SLIDESHOW
    Omega 3 Sources
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Salt Shockers
    SLIDESHOW
    lowering blood pressure
    SLIDESHOW