General Health

Can Omega-3 Fish Oil Improve Your Heart Health?

7 min read

By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 15 September 2023

  • Share this article

  • 0

  • 0 like

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fats that are essential for our overall health. They play a crucial role in maintaining heart health and reducing the risk of heart disease. In India, where heart disease is a leading cause of mortality, individuals need to be aware of the connection between omega-3 fish oil and heart health. Incorporating omega-3-rich foods into your diet or taking omega-3 supplements can have significant benefits. So, let's dive deeper into the world of omega 3 fatty acids and explore how they can help protect your heart health.

What are Heart Disease Risk Factors?

Heart disease is a major concern for individuals across the world, including India. To effectively protect ourselves against this condition, it is crucial to understand the risk factors associated with heart disease. Some common risk factors for heart disease include:

  • High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure puts a strain on the heart and damages blood vessels.
  • High Cholesterol Levels: Excess cholesterol can build up in the arteries, leading to blockages.
  • Diabetes: Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease.
  • Smoking: Smoking damages blood vessels, reduces oxygen supply, and increases the formation of blood clots.
  • Obesity: Extra weight puts an additional burden on the heart and increases the risk of other risk factors like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Additionally, a growing body of research suggests that inflammation plays a significant role in cardiovascular health. Chronic inflammation can lead to the development and progression of heart disease.

Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Improving Heart Health

Omega 3 fatty acids play a crucial role in maintaining heart health. They are found in fish oil and have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, which might benefit cardiovascular health.

They may help reduce inflammation markers in the body and improve various cardiovascular risk factors such as lowering triglyceride levels and improving endothelial function.

1. Types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that has shown numerous benefits in reducing the risk of heart disease. There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids:

  • EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid): EPA is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease and improve overall heart health. It is primarily found in fatty fish.
  • DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid): DHA plays a crucial role in brain development and function. It helps reduce triglyceride levels and supports heart health. DHA is also found in fatty fish.
  • ALA (Alpha-linolenic Acid): While ALA can be converted into EPA and DHA in the body, the conversion rate is relatively low. Therefore, it is recommended to consume fish or fish oil supplements for a sufficient intake of EPA and DHA. ALA is found in plant-based sources.

2. Dietary Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Here are some dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Fatty fish: Include fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna in your diet as they are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Nuts and seeds: Consume a handful of walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, or hemp seeds every day to boost your omega-3 intake.
  • Plant-based oils: Add oils like flaxseed oil, soybean oil, or canola oil to your meals.

3. Recommended Daily Intake for Optimal Heart Health

For adults, the American Heart Association recommends consuming 2-3 servings (250-500 mg) of EPA and DHA per week. Alternatively, you can take fish oil supplements containing a total of 500-1000 mg combined EPA and DHA per day.

For those without heart disease, a lower dose of 250-500 mg of combined EPA and DHA is sufficient.

How Does Omega-3 Work?

Omega-3 fish oil has gained significant attention for its potential benefits in promoting heart health. Understanding the mechanisms of action through which it exerts its effects on the body is crucial in comprehending its impact on cardiovascular health.

1. Affecting Blood Lipid Profile

One of the primary ways through which omega-3 fish oil influences heart health is by affecting the blood lipid profile. It works by:

  • Decreasing Triglyceride Levels: Omega-3 fatty acids benefits include helping decrease triglyceride levels, a type of blood fat. High levels of triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
  • Increasing HDL Cholesterol Levels: Omega-3 fish oil has been shown to increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, often referred to as "good" cholesterol. HDL cholesterol helps remove low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from the arteries, reducing the risk of plaque buildup and blockages.
  • Potential Impact on LDL Cholesterol Levels: While the impact of omega-3 fish oil on LDL cholesterol levels is still under investigation, some studies suggest that it may have a modest effect in reducing LDL cholesterol levels. However, more research is needed to establish a clear link.

2. Anti-inflammatory Properties of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Another important aspect of omega-3 fatty acids is their anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Chronic inflammation plays a key role in the development and progression of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Omega-3 fish oil can help reduce inflammation in the body, thereby potentially lowering the risk of heart disease.

Key Clinical Trails Studying Effects of Omega-3 Fish Oil

Clinical studies have provided valuable insights into the omega-3 health benefits, specifically the effects of Omega-3 fish oil on heart health. They show that Omega-3 fish oil may have a positive impact on heart health, especially for individuals with a history of heart attacks or high cholesterol levels. Let's take a closer look at some key clinical trials and their findings:

  • The GISSI-Prevenzione trial: This study involved over 11,000 participants with a history of heart attacks. It found that daily supplementation with Omega-3 fish oil reduced the risk of another heart attack by 45%.
  • The JELIS trial: This Japanese study included over 18,000 participants with high cholesterol levels. It showed that taking Omega-3 fish oil alongside statin therapy resulted in a significant reduction in the risk of major coronary events.
  • The ASCEND trial: In this study, over 15,000 participants with diabetes but no history of cardiovascular disease were involved. It found that Omega-3 fish oil supplementation did not significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular events.

Precautions and Considerations While Taking Omega-3 Fish Oil

Omega-3 fish oil supplements can be beneficial for various aspects of health, but there are precautions and considerations to keep in mind when using them.

  • Quality Matters: Look for fish oil supplements that are molecularly distilled to remove contaminants and ensure purity.
  • Check for Certifications: Look for third-party testing certifications like the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) or the United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP).
  • Consult your doctor: If you are on any medications or have any underlying health conditions, consult your doctor before starting any fish oil supplements. For example, it may interact with blood thinning medications.

Other Lifestyle Factors for Heart Health

In addition to taking omega-3 fish oil supplements, other lifestyle factors play a crucial role in maintaining heart health.

1. Exercise and Physical Activity

Exercise and physical activity are crucial components of maintaining heart health and overall well-being.

  • Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.
  • Consider including activities that strengthen muscles at least twice a week.
  • Consult with a healthcare professional to develop an exercise plan suitable for your fitness level and health condition.

2. Importance of a Balanced Diet

A balanced diet enhances the potential benefits of these supplements while ensuring overall nutritional well-being.

  • Follow a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
  • Limit the intake of saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars.
  • Control your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels to reduce the risk of heart disease.


In conclusion, omega-3 fish oil can be an excellent addition to your heart-healthy lifestyle. Its benefits include reducing triglyceride levels, lowering blood pressure, improving heart rhythm, and reducing inflammation. However, it's essential to consult with healthcare professionals for personalised advice on dosage and considerations. Prioritise your heart health and give omega-3 fish oil a try after discussing it with your doctor.

Consult Apollo’s Expert Cardiologists


General Health

Frequently Asked Questions

  While omega-3 fish oil supplements are generally considered safe for most people, they may have some side effects. These can include a fishy aftertaste, bad breath, indigestion, diarrhoea, or allergic reactions in some individuals.  

  No, omega-3 fish oil supplements cannot replace a healthy diet. It's important to remember that they should be used as part of an overall balanced diet and not as a substitute for eating nutrient-rich foods.  

  Omega-3 fish oil is generally safe to consume during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. It is often recommended for pregnant women due to its potential benefits for fetal brain development. However, it's important to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement during this time to ensure safety and appropriate dosage.  

Leave Comment


Email Id


  • Share this article

  • 0

  • 0 like