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Research Digest: OMEGA-3s Edition
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Dear Valued Customer,

Most of us are aware that fish and omega-3s are healthy. But do you know why and how they work?

This special research digest edition amasses omega-3 information and fish findings.

Consumption of omega-6 fats (a fat found in abundance in soybean, corn, safflower and sunflower oils) has increased steadily in the United States since the early 1900s. The average citizen now consumes 25 grams of omega-6 inflammatory fats per day (vs. 7 grams just over 100 years ago). At the same time, incidence of disease such as heart disease, obesity, depression, cancer, and diabetes have risen sharply.

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Research Studies

Omega-3 fats have many beneficial health effects and there are myriad studies exploring these mechanisms.

Essential Fatty Acids

>> Weight

Omega-3s from fish oil boosted levels of adiponectin in overweight people; the hormone may help deter obesity and diabetes

A healthy diet that included omega-3 fats, plus plenty of beans and vegetables may help lessen the effects of, or even prevent, "metabolic syndrome." The omega-3s help support healthy blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and may even block fat cell formation.

>> Diabetes

Omega-3 may reduce risk of diabetes. A recent study indicated "omega-3 fatty acids play a role in metabolic processes with respects to blood sugar and fat processing; reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes."

>>Heart

Women's heart disease risk cut in half by fish. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in women. A recent study links moderate intake of fish to a 50 percent lower risk of heart disease.

Long term research has linked eating more fish and less saturated fat to improved cholesterol levels. Statin drugs did not appear to offer further benefits.

Omega-3 lessens stroke damage. There is growing evidence in animal studies that omega-3, particularly DHA, can reduce brain damages from injury and stroke. More research is needed to determine protective effect.

>> Brain

Fish makes for a stronger brain. According to a novel MRI study, "consuming baked or broiled fish promotes stronger neurons in the brain’s gray matter by making them larger and healthier." This "increases the brain’s resistance to Alzheimer’s disease and lowers risk for the disorder."

Maintaining the proper balance between omega-3  and omega-6 may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Also, reducing cholesterol intake and consuming antioxidants have a related effect. Overall, it appears that a healthy diet will preserve your mind. As stated in the following study, "the use of a diet with an appropriate ω-3/ω-6 PUFA ratio, rich in healthy oils, fish and antioxidants, such as flavonoids, but low in cholesterol-containing foods, can be a beneficial component in the clinical strategies of prevention of AD."

Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked with improved brain function. The mechanism was examined in a 2006 animal study. The omega-3s helped maintain higher levels of fluidity in the brain, thereby preserving memory and mental flexibility during aging. 

>> Mood

Research indicates that omega-3s reduce anxiety chemicals and inflammation in healthy young people. This study showed 20% reduction in anxiety and decreased cytokines from omega-3 intake.

Omega-3 intake appears to help relieve depression, mainly when another anxiety disorder is not involved.

>> Eyes

Omega-3 fats directly inhibit the cellular activity that contributes to retinopathy, according to a 2011 study led by scientists from Harvard Medical School. In this eye condition, which is responsible for the blindness associated with diabetes, the retinal vessels grow ‘sprouts’ which eventually interfere with eye function and cause blindness. During digestion, omega-3 breaks down into parts including a metabolite called 4-HDHA, which specifically inhibits this irregular blood vessel growth.

Omega-3s appear to slow the progression age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by a significant percentage. Inflammatory omega-6 fats (found primarily in heavy vegetable oils and fried foods) may increase the risk of AMD.

>> Bone

Omega-3's appear to reduce instance of osteoarthritis in an animal study (by 50%). One animal study has shown that the omega-3s in fish oil helped maintain bone and joint health.

Omega-3 fats may help reduce the physical damage caused by smoking. According to a study in 2011, "omega-3 PUFAs improved endothelial function and the elastic properties of the arterial tree in healthy smokers, with a parallel anti-inflammatory effect."

A meta-analysis suggested a link between high consumption of omega-3s and lower levels of homocysteine, although more research is needed to investigate the relationship.

Higher omega-3 intake and blood levels have been associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. In addition, the ratio between the less-desirable omega-6 fats and the healthy omega-3s also correlated with variations in the occurrence of breast cancer.

 

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In the Diet

Fishing for More than Omega-3

The benefits of salmon extend beyond its omega-3 content. Several recent studies have found that salmon contains small bioactive protein molecules (called bioactive peptides) that may provide special support for joint cartilage, insulin effectiveness, and control of inflammation in the digestive tract. Read the complete nutritional profile on salmon at the World’s Healthiest Foods.

Salmon is a perfect choice for summer barbeques. It has it all: grill-worthy and satisfying texture, healthy qualities, and recipe versatility.

Salmon Burnout?

There are many other fish and plant sources of omega-3 fats.
Flax seeds provide mainly DHA. They are easy to grind and add to yogurt, homemade granola, smoothies, or salads.

Here’s an easy shrimp salad that provides omega-3 nutrients and astaxanthin.

One of our favorites — Ray & Terry adapted their spicy Seafood Pozole recipe to yield 42% of its calories from protein.

The fragrant Omega-3 and Couscous has Mediterranean flair

Both the fish and the olives in Roasted Fish Catalan provide healthy omega fats

These salads pack omega-3s and good taste into healthy summer packages.

 

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Best wishes for great health!
Ray & Terry's Longevity Products
Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman, M.D.

 
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What About Vegetarians?

Flaxseeds and Algae

There are several key nutrients that are not plentiful in a vegetarian diet. New research indicates that vegetarians, and especially vegans, have an increased risk of heart disease because of a dietary tendency to inadequate intake of omega-3 and vitamin B12. 

Omega-3 are best taken as fish oil, because of the high concentration of EPA and DHA found naturally in fish oil derived from cold water fish. But fish is not for everyone, so what’s the solution?

Flax seed is a good vegetarian source of DHA, but it does not contain EPA. The balance between these two fatty acids is important.

Algae sources are the best balanced option for vegetarians and vegans. In fact, fish get their omega-3 levels because of the algae they consume. Algae are also a more sustainable source with lower levels of contaminants.

D. Li. "Chemistry behind Vegetarianism." Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Vol 59 (3):777–784. 2011.

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News & Notes

Sugar causes brain damage, but omega-3s appear to counteract the damage.

"The new rat study from UCLA is the first to show how a diet high in fructose slows the brain, hampering memory and learning … and that omega-3 DHA can counteract the disruption (Agrawal R, Gomez-Pinilla F 2012)."

Anti-Brain-Shrinkage: A recent study is one of the first to measure blood levels of nutrients, including omega-3s, vitamins B, C, D, E and their relationship to cognitive health and brain volume. The researchers linked better cognitive skills and less brain shrinkage to higher blood levels of key nutrients, and the opposite results to lower blood levels.

Proven again: the heart is healthier with a diet including plenty of fish, legumes and healthy fats. This NYC study was less focused on Europeans and Mediterranean diet than some previous studies.

Mercury and Selenium
Did you know that fish also contains selenium, which contributes to the bigger picture of mercury toxicity? Avoiding species with high mercury levels is one step you should take. But selenium also has a mechanism of binding to mercury and preventing absorption in the body.

How do EPA and DHA protect the heart?

The answer has been elusive. The omega-3 fatty acids exert an anti-inflammatory effect, but the mechanism has not been clear.

This study mapped the cellular process occurring after EPA supplementation and found that the nutrient blocks the cyclooxygenase enzyme (COX), which is a precursor to inflammation. COX produces hormones called prostaglandins, which cause inflammation in the body. This is similar to the mechanism of aspirin, which blocks COX-2 signaling, thereby reducing inflammation and pain.

 

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Videos

High Energy Power Bars
High Energy Power Bars: This recipe using hemp seeds and flax seeds is easy, quick, and contains fiber and healthy omega-3s.


Men who don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids face increased risk of cardiovascular and neurological problems.


JAMA report on the link between fish oil levels and telomeres.


Quick report on omega-3 and memory loss


Healthy fish recipes without the charring: Fish on the Barbeque 101

 
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Qualified Heath Claim

AnnouncementThe FDA approves this claim:

"Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."

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Healthy Trivia

TriviaWhich contains more EPA?

a. Flax seed
b. Salmon
c. Lamb
d. Algae

Click here for the answer

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References:

Agrawal R, Gomez-Pinilla F. 'Metabolic syndrome' in the brain: deficiency in omega-3 fatty acid exacerbates dysfunctions in insulin receptor signalling and cognition. J Physiol. 2012 May 15;590(Pt 10):2485-99. Epub 2012 Apr 2. Accessed at http://jp.physoc.org/content/early/2012/03/31/jphysiol.2012.230078.abstrac

Buyken AE, Flood V, Rochtchina E, Nestel P, Brand-Miller J, Mitchell P. Modifications in dietary fat quality are associated with changes in serum lipids of older adults independently of lipid medication. J Nutr. 2010 Jan;140(1):88-94. Epub 2009 Nov 18. PMID: 19923396

Becker DJ, Gordon RY, Morris PB, Yorko J, Gordon YJ, Li M, Iqbal N. Simvastatin vs therapeutic lifestyle changes and supplements: randomized primary prevention trial. Mayo Clin Proc. 2008 Jul;83(7):758-64. PMID: 18613992

Carpentier YA, Portois L, Malaisse WJ. n-3 fatty acids and the metabolic syndrome. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jun;83(6 Suppl):1499S-1504S. Review.

Chiu CJ, Klein R, Milton RC, Gensler G, Taylor A. "Does eating particular diets alter the risk of age-related macular degeneration in users of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study supplements?" Br J Ophthalmol. 2009 Sep;93(9):1241-6. Epub 2009 Jun 9. PMID: 19508997

Corsinovi L. et al. "Dietary lipids and their oxidized products in Alzheimer's disease."Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 Sep;55 Suppl 2:S161-SS172. Epub 2011 Aug 31.

Dyall SC, Michael GJ, Whelpton R, Scott AG, Michael-Titus AT. "Dietary enrichment with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids reverses age-related decreases in the GluR2 and NR2B glutamate receptor subunits in rat forebrain." Neurobiol Aging. 2007 Mar;28(3):424-39. Epub 2006 Feb 28. PMID: 16500747

Gammelmark A, Madsen T, Varming K, Lundbye-Christensen S, Schmidt EB. "Low-dose fish oil supplementation increases serum adiponectin without affecting inflammatory markers in overweight subjects." Nutr Res. 2012 Jan;32(1):15-23. PMID: 22260859

Hacquebard M, Portois L, Malaisse WJ, *Carpentier YA. "The metabolic syndrome of omega3-depleted rats. IV. Intestinal phospholipid omega3 fatty acids." Int J Mol Med. 2009 Dec;24(6):859-65. PMID: 19885630

J. T. Huang et al. "High consumption of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids decrease plasma homocysteine: A meta-analysis of randomized, placebo-controlled trials ." Nutrition.2011. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2010.12.011

Kiecolt-Glaser, J. Brain, Behavior and Immunity. 2011

Kuriki K, Hirose K, Wakai K, Matsuo K, Ito H, Suzuki T, Hiraki A, Saito T, Iwata H, Tatematsu M, Tajima K. Breast cancer risk and erythrocyte compositions of n-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids in Japanese. Int J Cancer. 2007 Jul 15;121(2):377-85. PMID: 17354239

L. Knott, N.C. Avery, A.P. Hollander, J.F. Tarlton. "Regulation of osteoarthritis by omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids in a naturally occurring model of disease." Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, Volume 19, Issue 9, September 2011. PMID: 21723952

Lalancette-Hébert M, Julien C, Cordeau P, Bohacek I, Weng YC, Calon F, Kriz J. "Accumulation of dietary docosahexaenoic acid in the brain attenuates acute immune response and development of postischemic neuronal damage." Stroke. 2011 Oct;42(10):2903-9. Epub 2011 Aug 18. PMID: 21852616

Lespérance F, et al. "The efficacy of omega-3 supplementation for major depression: a randomized controlled trial." J Clin Psychiatry. 2011 Aug;72(8):1054-62. Epub 2010 Jun 15. PMID: 20584525

Norris PC, Dennis EA. "Omega-3 fatty acids cause dramatic changes in TLR4 and purinergic eicosanoid signaling." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 May 14. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 22586114

SanGiovanni JP, et al. "The relationship of dietary lipid intake and age-related macular degeneration in a case-control study: AREDS Report No. 20."Arch Ophthalmol. 2007 May;125(5):671-9. PMID: 17502507

Sapieha P, et al. "5-Lipoxygenase Metabolite 4-HDHA Is a Mediator of the Antiangiogenic Effect of {omega}-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids." Sci Transl Med. 2011 Feb 9;3(69):69ra12.

Seddon JM, Cote J, Rosner B. "Progression of age-related macular degeneration: association with dietary fat, transunsaturated fat, nuts, and fish intake."Arch Ophthalmol. 2003 Dec;121(12):1728-37. PMID: 14662593

Siasos G. Int J Cardiol. 2011 Nov 17. [Epub ahead of print]

Strøm M, Halldorsson TI, Mortensen EL, Torp-Pedersen C, Olsen SF. "Fish, n-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular diseases in women of reproductive age: a prospective study in a large national cohort." Hypertension. 2012 Jan;59(1):36-43. Epub 2011 Dec 5. PMID: 22146511

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (UPMC). Eating Fish Reduces Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, Pitt Study Finds. Nov. 30, 2011. Accessed at http://www.upmc.com/MediaRelations/NewsReleases/2011/Pages/Eating-Fish-Reduces-Risk-Alzheimers.aspx