Not sure if you're getting enough omega-3 fatty acids? Turns out, your doctor can measure that and the score can reveal important information about your health.
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Your doctor tests your blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides, but what about your omega 3 levels? You've heard that these beneficial fats, found mainly in fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, oysters and sardines, can help support heart health. Now, there's a blood test—called the omega-3 index—that can tell you if you're getting enough.
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A robust score translates to a reduced risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death. And the findings go beyond heart health: higher omega-3 levels are linked to lower rates of depression and may even predict a longer life. A 2017 Journal of Clinical Lipidology study found that the greater a woman's omega-3 index, the less likely she is to die an early death from any cause. "This test is a good way to identify those looming problems early and address them with food or supplements," says David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University and a member of the EatingWell advisory board.
Not sure if you need this test? Consider that 81 percent of Americans don't score high enough for optimal heart health. (The 2015 Dietary Guidelines suggest getting 250 mg of omega-3s daily from 8 ounces per week of fatty fish.) Even if you're getting—or think you're getting—enough, it's still worthwhile to check since we all absorb and metabolize fats differently. Plus the amounts in food vary, even in those we know to be good sources of omega-3s.
Talk to your doctor to see if this test is warranted or pick up an at-home mail-order kit from OmegaQuant.