Heart Disease and Fish oils, farm-raised fish, creatine, protein powders and polyunsatursted oils

Q&A with Mike Furci

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Q: Hey Mike,

I don't have a question but I wanted to say thanks for telling it like it is. This is in regards to your article on workout myths - I had heard three of them this past week. As well as being a great article, it felt great to finally hear the confirmation of just how many of these tough guy bodybuilders out there are utter jackasses. Thanks again.


A: You know John, it's very unfortunate, but there are a lot of jackass muscle-heads out there. It’s my guess that most of these types are very insecure and need this “bad ass look at me” façade to hide their inadequate feelings. Being a hardcore competitor, it was always disheartening having to deal with the muscle-head reputation. Bodybuilding and powerlifting seem to attract many guys who are insecure, and after they get a little muscle and strength they start to act out. Conversely, being involved in these sports has also allowed me to meet a lot of really interesting, good people.

I'm glad you liked the article John. It is true that many lifters are ignorant of proper training methods. Many of them are lucky they have halfway decent genetics that somewhat covers up for tremendous errors they make in the gym.

Knowledge is power John. Without it you can never be successful at anything. Keep educating yourself and do not be afraid to change things around if it doesn't work.

Thanks again for visiting Bullz-eye.com

Salmon Q: Hey Mike,

I also write for Bullz-Eye (fantasy football, cd/dvd reviews, etc). I just read your article about fish and I have a couple of follow up questions.

My family has a history of heart disease (mostly heart attacks in their 50s, and my dad had a heart transplant 13 years ago) so I try to be careful about what I eat. I've been taking fish oil supplements. The bottle says:

Natural Fish Oil Concentrate: 1,000 mg
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid): 180 mg
DHA (Eocosahexaenoic Acid): 120 mg

I also take a One-A-Day Men's Health Formula multivitamin. In my last checkup, my blood pressure was 132/78, which I believe is now classified as "prehypertensive," but that was after a month-long vacation where I didn't exercise a whole lot. I play basketball twice a week, but other than that, the only other exercise I get is when I take my dog for a walk. Like many men my age (33), I have a bit of a belly, but I'm not overweight (6-foot-8, 235 lbs).

Are there any kinds of fish I should avoid? I generally eat broiled or grilled fish. Do you have any other recommendations to keep my blood pressure/cholesterol low?


John Paulsen

A: John,

Let me first say I enjoy reading your reviews. I feel I've been exposed to a lot of CDs and DVDs that I never would have considered.

When you say you've read my article on fish, are you referring to "Fats, Cholesterol and the lipid hypothesis" article? I am always glad to hear when somebody says they are trying to be careful about what they consume. And taking fish oil supplements is a good start.

Carlson makes the best fish oil supplements. One teaspoon contains 500 mg of DHA and 800 mg of EPA. I would recommend taking this two to four times per day. The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids range from treating bi-polar disorder to preventing cardiovascular disease.

The American diet is basically devoid of omega-3 fatty acids, which contributes to the heart disease epidemic. Many studies have shown that people who consume these essential fatty acids have a lower risk of heart disease. There are other things, however, you need to do in order to help prevent cardiovascular disease.

First and foremost, do not consume any products that contain vegetable oil, hydrogenated oil, partially hydrogenated oil or shortening in the ingredients list. These manmade fats contain trans fats and are literally lethal. Decades of research have shown a link between these fats and heart disease.

Second, do not consume polyunsaturated oils derived from safflower, corn, sunflower, soy or cottonseed. Any polyunsaturated oil found in grocery stores is already rancid and contains high amounts of free radicals. Cooking with these oils is asking for a heart attack, because the heat further oxidizes these oils, which makes them even more hazardous.

Third, supplement properly. The most important supplements to take are the antioxidants: vitamins D, A, E, C and CoQ10. Forget the RDA when it comes to anything. The following are the amounts I take: 2000 international units (iu) of D; 10,000 iu of A; 800 iu of E; and 1,000 mg of C. I also take an injectable B complex because it has been shown to reduce homocysteine levels. Elevated homocysteine levels are an independent risk factor for heart disease.

John, I highly recommend you go to your doctor and find out your blood levels of homocysteine, C-Reactive Protein (CRP), and Lipoprotein A (Lp(a)). These are the most important markers of your risk of cardiovascular disease, with the most important level being your CRP.

Hope this helps.

Q: Mike,

You should specify that in order to get the benefits of omega-3 fats, the salmon you consume should be wild salmon and NOT farm raised. Farm raised fish are fed grains and dyes so the flesh comes out a nice bright orange, but is totally void of any beneficial oils found in wild salmon. There are a few farms that feed them the shrimp and other foods that they would get in the wild and these are fine. To get these you would have to visit a health food store.

Dan Gawry

A: Dan,

You're absolutely correct. When I found this out a few years back I was very angry because farmed fish is still marketed as a natural source of omega-3 fats. Not only are these farmed fish completely devoid of these beneficial fats, their entire fatty acid profile is completely different. Many of these farms actually feed these fish soy based food. SOY -- for fish?! WTF?! It is very depressing that our food supply in this nation is nothing like it was in the early 1900s ... healthy.

Skinny WeightliftingQ: Hi Mike,

I am a 5-foot11, 16 years old, and weigh 120 pounds. I'm looking to put on more weight, fat and muscle. I have recently come across creatine and thought I would try it out along with eating my usual amount of food and working out a few days a week. Are you strongly against creatine at my age? Do you think creatine would not only help me build muscle but also help me gain fat and look less skinny?

Thanks a lot.


A: Or,

No, I am not against somebody your age using creatine. Creatine is an excellent supplement and has no side effects to speak of. However, it is a supplement. Meaning, it should be used in conjunction with a good diet and training program. If your diet and or training are sub-par, creatine will be of little benefit.

When it comes right down to it, you need to eat more quality food. I've attached some info to help get you started.


Q: Mike,

First of all, thanks. Your articles have been very helpful in allowing me to better reach my goals in strength training. I think your reliable information inspires confidence in lifters everywhere.

In a previous article, you recommended Biotest's Metabolic Drive as a good protein powder. I noticed that one of the ingredients in Metabolic Drive was sunflower oil and according to your "Everything in moderation, right?" article, sunflower oil is a polyunsaturated fat, which is bad for you. Should I be concerned about taking Metabolic Drive? What else would you recommend?

Also, I have general question about protein powders. In every protein powder product, there are artificial sweeteners, such as acesulfame-potassium and sucralose. I know that aspartame has carcinogenic properties. What are your views on this? Do you know if long-term consumption of these sweeteners (acesulfame-K and sucralose) are safe/healthy?

Thanks for your help.


A: Yes it is true polyunsatursted oils are crap. They are rancid and are loaded with omega-6 fatty acids, which we get too much of as it is. Should you worry about the amount of polyunsaturated fat in Met Drive? No. There is only a small amount. Would I rather it be coconut or palm oil? Yes.

Sucralose is what I recommend. But the only artificial sweetener I get in my diet is in an occasional pop or my protein. I rarely add it to drinks or food.


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