Fats, Fish Oil and Omega-3-Fatty Acids (cont.)

Most sudden cardiac death is due to ventricular fibrillation. Ventricular fibrillation is a chaotic electrical disturbance that causes the heart to stop beating. Ventricular fibrillation typically occurs at the onset of a heart attack, usually before the victim can reach the hospital. Ventricular fibrillation will lead to brain death within minutes unless effective CPR can be delivered and/or the normal heart rhythm is restored by electric shocks (called defibrillation). More than 50% of people who die of sudden cardiac death have no signs or symptoms of coronary heart disease.

What is the scientific evidence behind omega-3-fatty acids?

There are several types of evidence suggesting that omega-3-fatty acids prevent death from heart disease; epidemiological evidence, archeological evidence, evidence from animal studies, observation studies, and interventional studies.

Epidemiological evidence

Epidemiology is the study of populations in order to determine the frequency and distribution of disease and measure risks. Scientists have observed that populations with high fish intake (Alaskan natives, Greenland Eskimos, and Japanese living in fishing villages) have low rates of cardiovascular disease and low rates of sudden cardiac death.

Archeological evidence

There is archeological evidence that the early ancestors in the Paleolithic period were lean, fit and free of coronary heart disease. Their physical fitness was in part due to their active hunter-gatherer life style (they exerted themselves daily for food, water, and physical security) and in part due to their diet.

The diet of the Paleolithic ancestors consisted mainly of natural and unprocessed food. Compared to the modern American diet, it contained more fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean protein, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, and omega-3-fatty acids. Their diet also contained little saturated fats, no trans fats, and no refined grains and sugars.

The animal meats in the Paleolithic period were different from the meats of today's domesticated animals. The animal meats then were rich in omega-3-fatty acids because the algae, plants, and grass (foods of the grazing animals and fish in those days) were rich in omega-3-fatty acids. Today's domesticated animals are corn and grain fed. Consequently meat from these domesticated animals is high in saturated fat but low in omega-3 fatty acids. Today's farm fish meat is often lower in omega-3-fatty acids than non-farmed fish.

Americans today lead generally sedentary lives, not the active hunter-gatherer lifestyle our genetics were designed for. The average American diet today is high in saturated foods, trans fats, and foods rich in grains and refined sugars. Our modern diet is also poor in omega-3 fatty acids. The combination of sedentary life and our modern diet is the prime cause for our epidemic of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary heart disease.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2014