Everyone is talking about Omega-3. They have numerous benefits for the body – in fact ‘essential fattyacids’ is a pretty good description of these essential nutrients. But did you know Omega-3 also affect the health of your heart? We asked Chris Smith, co-founder of Vegetology, scientist and self-confessed science geek, to tell us all about how Omega-3 can affect your heart health
What Does Omega-3 do for your heart?
“Omega-3 can slow the build-up of plaque in the arteries - the build up that can cause blockages. They also reduce the risk of an irregular heartbeat, help maintain normal blood pressure and decrease triglyceride levels when needed.”
And what are the triglyceride levels?
“Triglycerides are a form of dietary fat found in meats, dairy products and cooking oils. Your liver also makes triglycerides. They are used for one of two purposes. They are either taken up by cells and used for energy, or they can be stored as fat. But after eating a meal that’s rich in triglycerides, it takes a long time for those things to pass. One of the key things is, we often get too much triglyceride in our diets.”
And what effect does that have?
“It can increase the risk of heart disease basically.”
How does Omega-3 DHA and EPA help?
“Omega-3 in those correct forms, DHA and EPA, are proven to contribute to the maintenance of healthy levels of triglycerides. If the triglyceride level is too high, they will to help to bring it down, creating the right balance.”
So Omega-3 has a vital role to play in heart health for a number of reasons. Which leads us on to asking where we should be getting Omega-3 from, how much we need and the best sources.
Where Omega-3 is sourced
We don’t produce Omega 3 in the body, as we do with certain other nutrients like Vitamin D, so it has to come from our diet. The most common source is fish, particularly oily fish, and other seafoods and crustaceans. What about non-meat eaters? Well, Omega-3 is found in plants, nuts, seeds and seed oils, but not in the correct form. It is Omega-3 DHA and EPA that help heart health whereas plants contain ALA form.
So oily fish is the best source of Omega-3 for heart health?
Not necessarily. Doctors recommend that we eat two portions of oily fish a week maximum, due to the toxins and mercury that oily fish are also high in. The effects of pollution and their environment don’t necessarily make fish the ideal source of Omega-3.
What is wrong with Omega-3 in ALA form then?
ALA, which is alpha-Linolenic acid, is the form of Omega-3 found in flax, chia, and these kind of seed oils and plants. The problem is it is inactive. Your body needs to convert ALA into EPA and DHA to be active, and the conversion rate is incredibly low, if at all. It hits a maximum of 5% which is super inefficient.
Is there a plant-based source of Omega-3 in DHA and EPA form?
Yes – the solution is an algae source of Omega-3. By cutting out the middle man, or in this case, fish – we can get the Omega-3 in the form that is beneficial for heart health direct from the source. Fish only contains Omega-3 in DHA and EPA form because of its diet. It is possible to extract the Omega-3 directly from the algae, and even to grow it in controlled conditions to avoid any contamination.
Opti3 from Vegetology
Opti3 is a plant-based Omega-3 supplement from Vegetology that is extracted from algae. It is approved by the Vegan and Vegetarian societies and is grown in a controlled environment. It is an ethical and environmental choice and also contain the right forms of Omega-3 to help with heart health.
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