The inadequacy of this explanation became clear as members of this population group left Greenland and moved to the United States and Europe. When these transplanted Eskimos adopted a standard Western diet, their rate of coronary heart disease increased to equal the American and European rate.
Astonished by their findings, these two scientists determined that there had been no deaths from heart disease throughout the decade of 1968 to 1978. During this same decade, heart disease was the number one cause of death among Americans!
Bang and Dyerberg were so intrigued that they examined the statistics of all of Greenland and compared them to Americans of the same age and sex. The percentage of deaths from coronary disease in Greenland was 5.3% and in the United States 40.4%. The American population studied had nearly eight times the death rate from heart disease as the Greenland population!
It Had to Be The Diet!
Bang and Dyerberg diligently studied the diet of the Greenland people. After extensive surveys and research, they found "seafood to be the backbone of the diet." The particular type of seafood eaten was cold-water fish. Much of the Eskimo diet is whale, seal and cold-water fish---obviously not the standard American fare!
Science has come a long way from these first inspired exploratory studies. We have discovered the fish have the vital heart-protecting oils wiht the tongue twisting names of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). But, as we shall see EPA and DHA have many more benefits for us than just protecting against heart disease.
Since heart disease prevention was the first major benefit discovered with the use of fish oils, it became the most studied. Little did we know of the amazing benefits of these fish oils that were yet to be discovered.
In the last 30 years more than 8,000 reports and nearly 900 clinical trials have been completed. Numerous studies have shown strong evidence that omega-3 fatty acids reduce cardiovascular mortality, heart attacks and sudden death which are generally due to electrical problems. Sudden death has always been a bit of a mystery. Why does a person of proper weight, who exercises and doesn't smoke, suddenly drop dead of a heart attack? This where we get the phrase "in 50% of the heart attacks, the fist symptom is death." Whey should this sudden death occur? It was found that these patients had a heat not beating in a regular rhythm, and the membrane of the cardiac tissue was not very stable. All of this was probably due to irritation caused by inflammation of these tissues. Here is the good news. Studies support that supplementing with omega-3 reduces the rate of sudden death by a significant number.
What in the World is Going on Here?
There Are Two General Classes of Fatty Acids
The American diet is predominately made up of omega-6 fatty acids found in corn oils, cottonseed oils and meat. These are the bad guys which cause inflammation in our bodies. Greenland Eskimos' diet is mainly omega-3 fatty acids, the good guys. Countries with high omega-3 fish intakes have much lower heart disease than those whose diet is predominately omega-6.
After 30 years of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Heart Disease, What Have We Learned?
Populations with a high omega-3 intake have over a 50% lower rate of heart attack than those with low omega-3.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
- Slow or stop the beginning of plaque build-up in the arteries
- Decrease triglyceride levels
- Decrease the chance of a blood clot forming in an artery
- Improve arterial elasticity and general health
- Lower blood pressure
- Decrease the rate of plaque build-up in the heart vessel
- Reduce sudden death from a heat attack by 50%
- Lower cholesterol
- Raise the levels of "good" HDL cholesterol
- Stabilize heart muscle and reduce cardiac membrane irritability
"From the Womb to the Tomb"
For pregnant women a wide range of studies show improvement in pre-term delivery, birth weight, lack of preeclampsia and a reduction recurrent miscarriages..
A large, multi-country observational study of postpartum depression found the hight the levels of DHA, the lower the levels of depression. DHA is highly recommended for lactating females. The literature is clear the DHA is required for cognitive and visual development due to the close associatin of the brain and retina. Omega-3 fatty actids are especially abundant in nerve tissue---60% of the brain is comprised of DHA This fatty acid is essential in visual and neurological development.
Testing has been done showing the positive long-term effects of early DHA supplementation. These children performed significantly better on standard neurological motor function tests than did those with low DHA. We have known since 2000 that children low in omega-3 fatty actids are more apt to have behavioral and learning problems. In studies with ADHD those with the lowest levels of omega-3s scored the highest in behavioral problems, including hyperactivity,impulsivity, anxiety, temper tantrums and sleep problems. At age four the DHA group had higher IQ's. At age six the DHA group continued to outperform the non-DHA group.
Due to mothers' diets, the United States has some of the lowest level of DHA in human milk in the world. Finally --- in 2002 the United States was one of the last countries to add DHA to infant formula.
Alzheimer's, Dementia and Cognitive Decline
Approximately 60% of the fatty acids in the brain are DHA. Individuals with dementia consistently have lower levels of brain DHA compared to controls. Supplements of DHA could have a dramatic effect on the ravages of Alzheimer's.
In one study of 6,158 patients aged 65 or older, the rate of cognitive decline was measured. Those who consumed omega-3 fatty acids reduced the rate of decline by three to four years.
Since omega-3 fatty acids help produce anti-inflammatory chemicals in the body, one would expect improvement in diseases involving inflammation. The evidence is quite strong regarding rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), eczema, psoriasis and migraines.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Sources
Obviously cold-water fish is number one food choice. Some with high omega-3 fatty acid contents are anchovies, salmon, sardines, sea bass, and trout. Authorities suggest the following cold-water fish need to be consumed in only limited amounts because of mercury and other toxins: swordfish, king mackerel, shark, tilefish, tuna red snapper.
In addition, in 2001 the FDA recommended that children, pregnant or nursing women and women who may (who knows?) become pregnant should not eat swordfish and other species known to accumulate high levels of mercury. Now listen, if these fish are not safe for this huge group of people, whey should you or I be consuming them when all of have a healthy alternative? The healthy answer for us is and omega-3 fish oil supplement.
How Do You Choose a Suprior Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplement?
The finest fish oil supplement I have found on the market is OmegaGuard by the Shaklee Corporation. This company has been on the cutting edge of fish oil suplement since the very first ones were release on the market. Each time scientific tecnology improved, Shaklee has brought out new EPA supplements. OmegaGuard is the very best by far!
OmegaGuard is certified, pharmaceutical-grade fish oil. Distillation helps remove both impurities and the fishy odor. Shaklee is the only corporation I know of to use a triple molecular distillation and purification process. They even use a low temperature process (half that of the industry standard) to further concentrate the oil and avoid formation of transfats. All the of the above contribute to very low odor, no aftertaste and easy digestion.
OmegaGuard is a complete fish oil supplement. Let me explain. We are learning there are families of nutrients. There are eight members of the B complex family and six members of the vitain E family. Shaklee products which contain these nutrients contain the whole family unit. The same is true with omega-3 fish oils. OmegaGuard contains DHA, EPA, ALA and four other members of the omega-3 family. Each synergizes the other.
I have examined a number of other fish oil supplements on the market and none come close to the potency and purity of OmegaGuard.