Have Heart: The benefits of omega-3 fish oil supplementation

In sports talk, you constantly hear about athletes who have and don’t have “heart.” It’s a common theme that in order to be successful in sports or fitness, you have to “heart,” which is another way of saying you must care greatly, be dedicated to your game and able to overcome adversity. While there’s no question that having this attribute can make you more successful on the field, in the gym and even in the office, having an actual heart that is functioning at healthy levels is truly, and literally, vital.

February is American Heart Month, a time to raise awareness about cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart disease that cause over 17.9 million deaths worldwide each year, according to the American Heart Association. So no matter what sport you play or what your level of fitness is, taking care of your heart should always be a top priority.

There are many factors that go into heart health, some that can’t be controlled -- like family history and age -- and others that can be controlled, such as changes in diet and exercise. One of the easiest and best ways to improve your heart health is by taking Omega 3 fish oil supplements. According to the American Heart Association, taking fish oil supplements can reduce deaths from coronary heart disease by 10% and, in people with heart failure, they reduce deaths and hospitalizations by 9%. The AHA recommends everyone eats fish at least twice a week, but there is much easier, cheaper and safer option, especially for those who dislike the taste of fish or can’t eat fish due to allergies or mercury contamination.

Omega-3 fatty acid fish oil supplements can usually give your body the necessary nutrients needed for optimal heart health. Numerous studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help slow the buildup of plaque in the arteries, reduce the chances of a heart attack and stroke and can even lower blood pressure.

When shopping for Omega-3 fish oils, be sure to select one that offers both EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), to give you the best possible supplementation.  Both are types of Omega-3s and work together, but there is some variation between the two.  EPAs are long-chain omega-3 fatty acids typically found in fish and shellfish and are most useful for inflammation and cardiovascular function. DHAs are short-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in plants and algae. Like EPAs, they’re good for cardiovascular function and inflammation, but DHAs can also impact cognitive and visual development.

As with any supplements, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor first.

With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the best omega-3 fish oil supplements on the market today.

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