Omega-3, protection against heart disease

by Conceição Lemes

Omega-3, protection against heart disease. 44700.jpegDo you like salmon or tuna? Prefer cod, trout or sardines? For these fish in the sea, all cold water, have another characteristic in common: they contain in abundance a type of very special polyunsaturated fat - the protective omega-3 fatty acids.

"Those who eat more fish rich in omega-3 fat infarcted less," says Isabela Benseñor, physician and professor, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, USP. "The omega-3 has action against arrhythmia and thereby prevents sudden death from heart disease."

The physician and professor, Walter Willett, chair of the Department of Nutrition and Epidemiology, School of Public Health from Harvard University in the United States, adds other benefits of omega-3: 1) important components of cell membranes throughout the body especially the eyes, brain and sperm, 2) raw material for the production of certain hormones, including those that regulate the contraction and relaxation of the arterial walls and 3) help in the prevention and treatment of disease and possibly stroke, autoimmune disorders like lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Therefore, according to Willett, everyone should consume daily at least one good source of omega-3. For pregnant women or women who wish to become pregnant, it is indispensable. "A growing child needs a constant supply of omega-3 fatty acids for the formation of the brain and other parts of the nervous system," the professor said.

Soybean oil and capsules

The cold-water fish, however, are not the only source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are also present in large amounts in chestnuts, peanuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and cashews, linseed and - attention!, soybean oil.

"Of course it is better to eat fish, but those who typically use soybean oil in food preparation meet the daily needs of omega-3," reassures the nutritionist, Celeste Elvira Viggiano, Supervision of Health Surveillance of the Municipality of São Paulo and a Masters in Public Health Faculty of Public Health of USP ..

- Is it worth taking capsules of omega-3 from pharmacies?

The answer is no. "Scientific studies conducted so far have not shown that they are effective," explains Isabella. "Arguably what works is the omega-3 in the mixed plate of food, interacting with other nutrients."

But there is one more argument against the capsules: the financial aspect. Just do the math. Considering the number of capsules recommended on the labels of these products and the market price, you'd spend in a month about 50 months in reality. For that amount, you can buy some salmon and several pounds of sardines. The advantage of fish is threefold: besides being tasty in addition to providing omega-3 first, they are good sources of protein and minerals. Protect your pocket and your heart.


Translated from the Portuguese version by:

Lisa Karpova


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Author`s name Oksana Orlovskaya