Cardiac or heart arrhythmia, also known as cardiac dysrhythmia, is nothing but a disturbance or fluctuation in the regular rhythm of the heartbeat. It can occur due to irregular electrical activity of the heart, and some forms are commonly referred to as heart palpitations.

Although most heart arrhythmias are not life-threatening, some can be indicative of a cardiac arrest which, if not attended in time, can even lead to death. There are various conventional medicines which help with the pounding or fluttering sensations; however certain dietary measures can help control an irregular heartbeat.

There is growing evidence that increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent as well as control heart arrhythmia. [1,2,3] Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is the parent fatty acid of the omega-3 family, with two other major long chain derivatives—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

One of the richest sources of ALA in the North American diet are flaxseeds. A 2004 study carried out by Canadian scientists was able to highlight the anti-arrhythmic properties of these tiny seeds. The study, which was carried out in rabbits, was able to demonstrate that dietary flaxseed exerts antiarrhythmic effects, possibly through shortening of the action potential. [4]

Other rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids are walnuts and fatty fish such as salmon, cod, tuna and halibut.

How To Take Them

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1. Galli C, Brenna JT. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and cardiovascular disease events. JAMA. 2013 Jan 2;309(1):28-9. doi: 10.1001/jama.2012.116648.PubMed PMID: 23280211.

2. Rajaram S. Health benefits of plant-derived α-linolenic acid. Am J Clin Nutr.2014 Jul;100 Suppl 1:443S-8S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.071514. Epub 2014 Jun 4.PubMed PMID: 24898228.

3. Rodriguez-Leyva D, Dupasquier CM, McCullough R, Pierce GN. The cardiovascular effects of flaxseed and its omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid. Can J Cardiol. 2010 Nov;26(9):489-96. Review. PubMed PMID: 21076723; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2989356.

4. Ander BP, Weber AR, Rampersad PP, Gilchrist JS, Pierce GN, Lukas A. Dietary flaxseed protects against ventricular fibrillation induced by ischemia-reperfusion in normal and hypercholesterolemic Rabbits. J Nutr. 2004 Dec;134(12):3250-6. PubMed PMID: 15570021.