Friday, March 13, 2015

Omega-3 results show local need to eat more seafood

      If the level of Omega-3 fatty acids in your red blood cells is at 8 percent, there is an 80 to 90 percent risk reduction of sudden cardiac death than someone whose Omega-3 level is around 2 to 3 percent.
      Omega-3 fatty acids are key to good health. However, of the more than 300 people who tested in October at the Church Health Center, 64 percent were in the low 2 to 3 percentile.
      The grim report is an indication that Memphians do not eat enough seafood that contains the necessary amount of Omega-3 fatty acids to ward off a number of serious diseases and reduce the risk of heart attacks.
      “Memphis has the highest incidents of heart disease,” said Linda Cornish, executive director of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP), a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., which raises awareness about the essential nutritional benefits of eating seafood.
Joan Franks, a member of the Church Health Center, gets
her blood tested for its percentage of Omega-3 fatty acids.
      SNP chose Memphis and Indianapolis as pilot cities to launch its public health education campaign to encourage more people to eat at least two servings of seafood each week as recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines.
      Participants also were encouraged to take the Healthy Heart Pledge for four months and given samples of salmon, tuna and Omega-3 capsules.
      Antionette Marmon had never liked salmon and certainly didn’t like the way it looked until she decided to make a meal of it for she and her husband.
      “It was really, really good,” said Marmon, 57, a health fair recruiter, who took the pledge and tested to determine the percentage of Omega-3 fatty acids in her red blood cells.
      “People take their health for granted,” she said. “Anytime you can take a test for free, there is no reason not to do it.”
      Vickie Johnson, an event management consultant, took the test as well to ascertain her percentage of Omega-3 fatty acids, but wasn’t too enthusiastic when she got the results.
      “It showed I needed an increase,” said Johnson. “It was about 3 percent.”
      “Most Americans have 2 to 3 percent of Omega-3 fatty acids in their red blood cells,” said Cornish. “Eighty percent of Americans don’t follow the USDA guidelines and 20 percent of them eat seafood at least twice a week.”
      Those who were tested in October and pledged to eat more seafood are scheduled to be retested Thursday (March 5) at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
      “We’re inviting people who were tested in October to come back to be retested,” said Cornish. “It’s an indicator of whether you’re eating enough seafood or not.”
      “I think it’s a great opportunity to get retested to find out what’s going on in my body,” said Marmon.
      Studies have been conducted to determine the benefits of increasing one’s Omega-3 fatty acids in the blood to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other maladies. Memphis, however, is not foreign to studies of one kind or another.
      In 2012, for example, one third of the population in Memphis was considered obese, according to Newsweek magazine, which listed Memphis as the fattest city in the nation. High blood pressure and diabetes are also prevalent among Mid-Southerners.       
      Johnson was previously diagnosed with high blood pressure and is taking the prescribed medication for it. “I’m no longer taking the medication,” she said.
      Johnson had concerns about her health prior to participating in the seafood campaign; however, she felt it necessary to take the pledge. She’d been eating seafood at least 3 to 4 times a month, but increased her consumption after receiving her score.
      “I was eating fish and shrimp,” she said. “Now I eat more tilapia, and I increased my tuna intake as well. I either grill it bake it or put it in the oven.”
      A divorcee, Johnson has two adult daughters. She encourages them to eat healthy as well. “My younger daughter, who is in college, is more aware of Omega-3,” she said. “We’ve had discussions about it.”
      Marmon said eating healthy and increasing the percentage of Omega-3 in her blood is an important step – not just for herself, but for women in particular. “It is extremely important for females. As you get older, you have to maintain your body.”
      Early detection is everything, she added.
      Cornish said help is available for women who want to learn more about heart health and eating healthy. “We want to make every day heart healthy,” she said. “ We want more people to sign up for the healthy heart pledge by going to the website”
      Because there has been a good reception in Memphis and Indianapolis, Cornish said the SNP would launch a 3-year national campaign in October and add six more cities to encourage more people to eat more seafood.
      Marmon said she and her husband have eaten fish at least once a week before Memphis was chosen as a pilot for SNP’s public heath campaign.
      “I don’t have a problem with increasing it to twice a week,” said Marmon, who is also using the Omega-3 capsules as a supplement.
      “I’m taking 1,000 milligrams and I will continue to take them,” she said.

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