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Heart Health and Benefits of Fatty Fish and Fish Oil

Heart health refers to the overall condition and function of the heart. Some key aspects of heart health include:

  • Cardiovascular fitness – Having an efficient cardiovascular system that can effectively pump blood throughout the body during exercise and day-to-day activities. This is supported by regular physical activity.
  • Healthy blood pressure – Ideal blood pressure levels allow blood to flow easily without putting too much pressure on the heart and arteries. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mmHg.
  • Healthy cholesterol levels – Cholesterol is a substance in the blood that can build up in the arteries and increase risk for heart disease. Optimal cholesterol levels help blood flow smoothly. For LDL (“bad” cholesterol), ideal levels are under 100 mg/dL.
  • Healthy weight and diet – Maintaining a healthy weight and diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, and not too much sugar, salt, or fried and processed food helps the heart and vascular system stay in shape. Excess weight strains the heart.
  • Avoiding smoking – Not smoking is important for heart health, as smoking damages blood vessels and contributes to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
  • Managing stress – Chronic stress hormones elevate risk for high blood pressure and heart disease. Enough sleep, relaxation, and stress management help maintain a healthy heart.
  • Other risk factor management – Controlling diabetes, cutting alcohol excess, and managing other conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol can also support heart health.

What Makes Fatty Fish So Good for Your Heart?

Fatty, oily fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and tuna are some of the best foods you can eat for overall health, especially heart health. That’s because they are loaded with beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

Fatty fish provide high amounts of two key omega-3 fats called EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Research over the years shows omega-3 fatty acids have profound heart-protective effects.

Studies demonstrate that getting more EPA and DHA from foods or supplements can benefit heart health in many ways:

  • Lower triglyceride levels – High triglycerides raise heart disease risk.
  • Reduce blood pressure.
  • Slow the buildup of plaque in arteries.
  • Reduce inflammation and risk of blood clots.
  • Improve arterial and endothelial function.
  • Lower risk for abnormal heart rhythms and sudden cardiac events.

    Population studies also associate regular fish intake with significantly lower rates of heart attack, stroke, and death from heart disease. The benefits seem greatest when eating fatty fish at least twice per week.

Should You Take Fish Oil If You Don’t Eat Fish?

For those who don’t eat much fatty fish, fish oil supplements can be an effective way to increase EPA and DHA intake. Quality fish oil capsules offer similar benefits for heart health and cardiovascular disease risk markers.

Some research finds even more potent heart benefits from special phospholipid-based fish oils that may be better absorbed. Krill oil and salmon roe oil supplements also provide omega-3 rich phospholipids.

Fish Oil Dosage for Heart Health

Experts typically recommend at least 250–500 mg per day of combined EPA/DHA for general health. But some suggest double that dose (at least 600 mg daily) for heart protection and normal triglyceride levels. Always follow dosage on supplements.

Maximize Heart Benefits with Fatty Fish Consumption

Aim to consume fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, or herring at least twice per week. Pair this with daily fish oil supplements if needed to reach optimal omega-3 intake for supporting cardiovascular wellness.

FAQ’s of Fish Oil and Heart Health

What are the benefits of fish oil for heart health?

Some of the main benefits of fish oil for heart health include reducing inflammation, lowering triglycerides, reducing blood pressure, preventing arrhythmias, and potentially reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in fish oil produce these cardiovascular benefits.

How does fish oil improve heart health?

The EPA and DHA in fish oil have anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent plaque buildup in arteries. Fish oil can also help reduce triglycerides and lower blood pressure. Additionally, fish oil helps make blood platelets less sticky and less likely to clot, which reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.

How much fish oil should I take for heart health?

For heart health, most experts recommend getting at least 500 mg per day of combined EPA and DHA. To significantly lower triglycerides, higher doses of 2-4 grams daily are typically recommended. It’s best to consult your doctor for the specific dose that’s right for your needs.

What are the side effects of fish oil?

Fish oil is generally well tolerated, especially at lower doses. Potential side effects can include fishy aftertaste, belching, nausea, loose stools, rash, and nosebleeds at very high doses. Taking fish oil with meals can reduce gastrointestinal side effects. People taking blood thinners should consult a doctor before starting fish oil.

What foods contain omega-3s?

The best dietary sources of EPA and DHA omega-3s are cold water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines. Plant sources like walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and soybeans contain ALA omega-3s, which have less potent heart benefits than EPA and DHA.


The information provided above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. It is important to consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalized medical guidance and treatment.

This website does not promote or endorse any specific medical treatments or services. The information provided is purely for informational purposes and should not be taken as a recommendation or endorsement.

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