Heart Health, Part II, The Good News About Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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In September 2012 JAMA published the findings of a study from a group of researchers in Greece who performed a meta-analysis of data derived from Omega-3 clinical trials.  Considerable controversy arose when it was revealed that there existed no statistically significant relationship between supplementation with Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and the reduction of major cardiovascular events, chiefly cardiac mortality and related co-morbidity.  While the researchers adjusted for patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators, there was no similar allowance for the fact that the study population consisted of Patients previously diagnosed with serious illness. 

In addition, it has been pointed out that there were other procedural flaws.  Aside from the compromised health of the study group members, there was no control for the quality or dosage of the Omega-3 used.  Nor does there seem to have been any awareness of the importance of freshness and purity of the Fish Oil, i.e. that it was non-oxidized and free from contaminants.  While there have been other attempts to discredit the importance of Omega-3 to Heart Health, as well as providing many other benefits not a part of our discussion here, the essential health-promoting properties of Omega-3 fatty acids are now widely accepted.  And this physician, among the majority of her colleagues, is in no doubt as to its efficacy. 

Lost beneath the sensationalized headlines was the fact that Researchers were able to demonstrate the effectiveness of Omega-3s in that they dramatically lower triglycerides, decrease clotting risk and blood pressure, prevent serious arrhythmias, and improve arterial health.  Many other previous studies have concluded that Omega-3s do offer protection against cardiovascular disease.  The GISSI trial in the 1980’s showed that among 11,000 patients, victims of a prior heart attack, 1 gram per day of Omega-3 conferred a reduction in death by a subsequent heart attack. 

Brigham & Women’s Hospital recently undertook a study of 374 Patients undergoing standard post-infarction cardiac rehabilitation.  Of those who took 2 to 4 grams of Omega-3 supplements, 39% were less likely to develop fibrosis (arterial stiffening) leading to a deterioration of Heart function.  The lead researcher, Dr. Raymond Kwong, reported significant improvement in the S-T 2 Cardiac Biomarker for Cardiac Stress after 6 months in the Omega-3 group.  He believes this attributable to a potential anti-inflammatory effect.

Aside from these beneficial cardiovascular results, Omega-3 has been shown to decrease Insulin Resistance (Click Here for my blog on Metabolic Syndrome), Inflammation, Postpartum depression, and Anxiety, as well as delay the onset of Auto-Immune disorder. To quote an esteemed colleague, “Omega-3 is a good nutrient most of us don’t have enough of in our diets.”

Rx for Health:

Take 1-4 grams of Omega 3 Fish Oil/day.  For heart health, select one with a high percentage of DHA.  If taking Fish Oils causes you digestive discomfort, talk to me about it. I can give you some suggestions in your next office visit, if currently a patient, or by email (drbeaty@janetbeaty.com). The best sources of dietary DHA & EPA are, of course, wild caught cold water Salmon and the less popular Herring, Sardines & Mackerel, but also include walnuts and flaxseeds.  These latter contain the ALA form of Omega-3, significantly weaker in effect than the DHA/EPA form.  DHA, essential for cardiovascular benefit, is also vital to brain and eye development.  EPA, on the other hand, is more effective in lowering inflammation and depression.

Fish oil (like any oil) can become rancid and decidedly bad for you and can contain Mercury, PCBs, etc. since some fish swim in contaminated waters.  Be sure to purchase your Fish oil at a reputable Health Food Store or contact me for specific recommendations.  It is unadvisable to buy from Big Box stores or from unknown companies online. Buy a small bottle & keep refrigerated, at least when the weather is warm.

Recipes:

Here are some recipes from my collections to make it easy for you to Eat Well & Be Healthy.

 

Broiled Salmon with Sauce Alsace

 Serves 6

 

2/3 c fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced

6 salmon steaks (1-1 1/4 “thick), lightly salted

1/2 Tbsp. each celery seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds

3/4 tsp onion salt

1/8 tsp peppercorns

3 gratings fresh nutmeg

1/2 lb. butter, melted (probably could use 1/2 that amount)

a few drops lemon juice

a dash of herb salt

 

Butter lightly a very heavy iron skillet. Lay salmon steaks closely together in the pan.  Broil salmon on 1st side for 7min.  

While salmon is broiling, whirl seeds, onion salt, peppercorns, nutmeg (nut grinder or Vitamix) Or grind with mortar & pestle.                                 

Melt butter & add to above mixture in blender or Vitamix. Whirl 1/2min.                                                                                                                             

Turn Salmon gently. Place 1/6th of mushrooms in each steak’s tail pocket & wrap tails around.                                                                               

Squeeze lemon juice over salmon. salt lightly with herb salt.                                                                                                                                                   

Spoon sauce over salmon steaks & broil 2nd side for 3 min.                                                                                                                                                   

Serve immediately. Over brown rice if you like and with a crisp, simple green salad with   vinaigrette.

 

Simple Cold Poached Salmon served with Green Sauce

 Serves 8 - 10

2 large onions, thickly sliced

2 carrots, sliced lengthwise

2 ribs celery, sliced

8 sprigs parsley

5 sprigs thyme or ¾ tsp. dried

2 bay leaves

2 cups white wine (dry, good quality)

6 cups water

 

COURTBOUILLON:  Bring all ingredients to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, partially covered.  Skim, strain, and cool completely.  Refrigerate until use; no longer than 24 hrs.

 1 side salmon, sized according to number of guests and size of poacher.  Please try to find fresh caught salmon, not farmed!  And NOT GMO!

 Place salmon in poacher.  Add chilled courtbouillon to cover.  If necessary, water:wine (3:1) may be added to cover completely.  Heat slowly over medium flame until it just begins to simmer.  Maintain at barely simmering, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes depending upon thickness.  A thermometer inserted at thickest point should read 125 - 130 deg. Remove from liquid; residual heat will cook to 140 deg. Remove skin. Cool to room temperature, cover and chill thoroughly until cold.   Serve with green sauce or your favorite recipe.

 

Easy Green Sauce

 

1 cup Mayonnaise, preferably home-made

½ cup crème fraiche or good organic sour cream

½ cup Greek yoghurt, organic

1 cup cooked spinach, coarsely chopped

1 bunch chives

1 large handful dill, remove stems just below leaves

Pinch fresh nutmeg

Salt & pepper to taste

Freshly squeezed lemon juice, about ¼ - ½ cup

Puree greens in food processor.  Add mayo and dairy, nutmeg, salt, & pepper; pulse until homogenized.  Don’t over-process.  Chill thoroughly.  Add lemon juice to taste just before serving and stir to combine.  You will likely not need more than ¼ cup. 

(Note:  if you’re a spice lover, you may add favorite hot sauce to taste)

 

 

You don’t want to miss the next part of my Heart Health Series on the benefits of Medium Chain Fatty Acids, CoEnzyme Q10, L-Carnitine, L-Taurine, Magnesium, Grapeseed extract and others.  ‘Til next time!