Heart disease among the Eskimos people of Greenland is almost unknown, despite the high rate of fat in their diet. Scientific studies have now shown that it is the type of fat which is important.
Fish oils, from the seafood that is the basis of the Eskimo diet, are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which act to protect the heart.
Studies are showing that these essential fatty acids have other important benefits to human health.
About fish oils
The fat in fish is in the form of a polyunsaturated fatty acid called Omega-3. These differ from other types of oils, such as those found in vegetables (called Omega-6) and have different effects on the body.
The two most potent forms of omega-3s, EPA and DHA are found in cold water fish. such as salmon, mackerel and tuna. There is a third type of omega-3, known as ALA found in Flaxseed and a green leafy vegetables such as purslane.
However these fatty acids affect the body in different ways to EPA and DHA.
What do fish oils do in the body?
Recent research has shown that omega-3s strengthen the heart's electrical system, thus preventing abnormal heart rhythm.
By reducing inflammation in the arteries by preventing plaque build-up, fish oils are used to prevent the relocking of arteries that commonly occur after angioplasty, in which a small balloon is guided through an artery to a blockage and then inflated to compress plaque, widen the vessel and improve blood flow to the heart. Omega-3 fatty acids play a key role in these vital body processes:
- regulating blood pressure
- blood clotting
- reducing inflammation
- boosting immune system
- controlling blood cholesterol
Extra Anti-inflammatory benefits make fish oils useful and effective in joint problems, lupus and psoriasis. Studies have indicated that people with humanoid arthritis experience a reduction on joint swelling and stiffness.
In a year long study of patiens suffering from Crohns' disease, which is a painful type of inflammatory bowel doses, 69% of those taking enteric-coated fish oil supplements stayed symptom free.
According to a preliminary study from the University of California, Los Angeles, omega-3s may help fight breast cancer and maintain healthy breast tissue. Animal studies also indicate that fewer breast tumours develop when fish oils are part of a healthy diet.
Alzheimers Disease: Fish oils retard the aging process by suppressing free-radicals, which cause aging. They have also been shown to protect against the onset of Alzheimers' disease.
Studies have shown that low intakes of EPA/DHA are associated with cognitive impairment affecting the ability to learn, think and remember thus increasing the risk of dementia.