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Omega-3 fatty acids, essential for everything from cell division to inflammation regulation, may also decrease your risk of having a second heart attack, say researchers from the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City (American Journal of Cardiology, 2006, vol. 97, no. 8). During the study, men who had suffered a heart attack in the previous 3 to 60 months took supplemental omega-3 fatty acids (585 mg of docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, and 225 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA) or a placebo daily for four months.
Scientists measured subjects’ heart rate, heart rate variability, and heart rate recovery after exercise. At the end of the study period, researchers found that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation decreased resting heart rate by 7 percent and improved heart rate recovery after exercise by 19 percent.
This is promising news for the estimated 13 million Americans with coronary heart disease. "The best way to get more omega-3s is by eating fish, especially salmon, trout, anchovies, and sardines," says Lisa Licavoli, RD, ND, in Newport Beach, California. Vegetarian sources such as flax and walnuts are beneficial, but not as effective as fish oil because the body first must process the alpha linolenic acid in them, then convert it into biologically active EPA and DHA.