HomeHealth articlesomega fatty acidsHow Does Consuming Omega-3 Fatty Acid Help Reduce the Risk of Developing Cardiovascular Diseases?

Fish Oil to Reduce Heart Diseases- An Overview

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Cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of death globally, can be prevented by consuming fish oil. Read the article to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Prashant Valecha

Published At December 1, 2022
Reviewed AtMarch 8, 2023


Fish oil, produced from the tissues of oily fish, is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. They are used as supplements for various reasons, as numerous studies have revealed the different benefits it provides to the human body.

What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids, also known as good fats. Polyunsaturated fats cannot be made by the body, making them an essential nutrient. This means that they need to be included in the diet. They are abundant in fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, etc.

Omega-3 fatty acids are primarily of three types, namely:

  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Within the body, only small amounts of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are converted into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Hence, additional dietary supplements are required to replenish reserves of DHA and EPA.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is primarily found in plant sources, whereas eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are abundantly found in animal sources.

It is best to reap the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids from plant or animal sources, but one can also opt for fish oil supplements which are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids, specifically docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are essential for the development of the brain and retina.

What Foods Provide Omega-3 Fatty Acid?

One can get adequate omega-3 fatty acids by consuming the following;

  • Cold water fatty fish and other seafood (for example, salmon, tuna, mackerel, etc.)

  • Nuts and seeds (for example, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds).

  • Plant oils (for example, flaxseed oil, canola oil, and soybean oil).

  • Fortified foods (for example, eggs, yogurt, soy beverages, tofu, etc.)

For individuals 20 years or above, it is recommended that they have a daily consumption of 1.1 grams to 1.6 grams. However, the dosage changes if an individual is pregnant, nursing, or diagnosed with a heart condition. Omega-3 fatty acids should contribute to about five to ten percent of daily calories consumed.

What Are the Health Benefits of Consuming Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

There are several benefits of consuming omega-3 fatty acids. They help in the following ways:

  • Improve eye health.

  • Reduce the symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in children.

  • Reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

  • Fight inflammation in the body.

  • Fight autoimmune diseases.

  • Improve bone and joint health.

  • They may help prevent cancer.

  • Alleviate menstrual pain.

  • Improve the quality of sleep.

  • Improve skin health.

  • Prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD) disease.

  • Reduce asthma in children.

  • Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

  • Improve cognitive function.

  • Decrease the likelihood of developing dementia and Alzheimer's.

  • Promotes growth and development in infants.

  • Supports pregnancy and prompts fetal brain development.

  • Help combat obesity.

How Does Consuming Omega-3 Fatty Acid Help Reduce the Risk of Developing Cardiovascular Diseases?

Omega-3 fatty acids have many benefits which help improve cardiovascular health. They do so by doing the following:

  • Effectively Reduce Levels of Plasma Triglycerides: Triglycerides are lipids or fats (waxy fats) found in the blood. They are made in the body and also found in food (with high sugar and saturated fat). They offer energy to the body whenever in need and store unused calories. Triglycerides are crucial for the body but can lead to various diseases when in excess. A high level of triglycerides or hypertriglyceridemia can lead to pancreatitis and several cardiac conditions, such as carotid artery disease, coronary artery disease, and heart attack.

  • Reduce the Risk of Arrhythmias: Arrhythmias refer to a medical condition in which the heartbeats are irregular. They can be fast or slow and occur when there is a malfunction in the conduction of electrical impulses within the heart. A few examples of conditions associated with arrhythmia include - atrial fibrillation, ventricular fibrillation, supraventricular tachycardia, and heart blocks.

  • Impairs and Reduces the Rate of Plaque Buildup: Plaque, made of a waxy substance, accumulates within the blood vessels' walls, resulting in atherosclerosis. This narrowing and clogging of the blood vessels can impair the blood flow and lead to various diseases, such as coronary artery disease, carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease, aneurysms, and chronic kidney disease. Studies show that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps prevent plaque buildup because of the anti-inflammatory and ant-oxidant effects of omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Lowers Blood Pressure: Individuals who consume adequate omega-3 fatty acids tend to have regulated blood pressure. The risk of heart attack, stroke, chronic kidney disease, and other significant health issues rises with hypertension (high blood pressure).

  • Increases the Level of HDL Cholesterol: High-density lipoprotein or HDL, also known as good cholesterol, absorbs the cholesterol from the body and routes it to the liver, where it eventually flushes out of the body, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. Other ways of increasing the levels of high-density lipoproteins are by increasing physical activity, having a healthy balanced diet, reducing alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking.

  • Prevent Inflammation of the Blood Vessels and Formation of Blood Clots: Omega-3 fatty acids have an antithrombotic effect that prevents the formation of blood clots. The antithrombotic effect refers to the effect that is achieved due to reduced fibrin formation and the prevention of clots from forming and growing.

Are There Any Side Effects Associated With the Consumption of Fish Oil?

It is advisable to have fish oil supplements with meals. When taken orally, they are well tolerated and rarely have any side effects. The occasional side effects of consuming fish oil include:

  • Heartburn.

  • Diarrhea (loose stools).

  • Nosebleeds.

  • Halitosis (bad breath).

  • Headache.


The association between the consumption of fish oil and the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases has been studied for years. Fish oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, has numerous benefits and protects an individual from developing cardiac or heart conditions. Cold water fatty fish and other seafood (for example, salmon, tuna, mackerel, etc.) are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Although fish oil has cardioprotective benefits, it is important to understand that it is not a one-stop solution or a miracle pill for all heart problems. Fish oil can never substitute primary care for curing and preventing heart disease. Good exercise habits, a healthy diet, and routine body-check ups can help prevent cardiovascular diseases.

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Dr. Prashant Valecha
Dr. Prashant Valecha



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