When faced with a heart scare like a heart attack, stroke, or another life-threatening event, you turn to anything that might help you heal, recover, stay out of the hospital for good and live years longer. A new study by the American College of Cardiology has found that eating foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids leads patients to live at least 3 years longer than those who didn't eat those heart-healthy foods after such an event.

They checked in with patients years after their first hospitalization and found that those with the highest levels of Omega-3 in their blood were also the healthiest, while those who didn't eat these Omega-3 rich foods were either readmitted to the hospital with new heart problems or had died within the 3 years. The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that consuming foods high in Omega-3s, improved the outcomes of patients and helped to keep them out of going back to the hospital again, the study indicated.

Omega-3 comes in two types: Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and both appear to be beneficial to patients who have had heart disease, the study found. EPA is found in marine foods like fatty fish, while ALA is found in plant-based foods such as walnuts as well as hemp seeds, flax seeds, edamame, and kidney beans and Brussels sprouts, along with other whole plant-based foods.

Getty Images

"Additionally, the consumption of both ALA and EPA provided the greatest benefit, suggesting a synergistic effect and unique protective qualities when both types of omega-3 are consumed," the study found.

"Dietary omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) has multiple cardioprotective properties," the study authors concluded.  "We also explored the association of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, as proxy for vegetable omega-3 intake) with all-cause mortality," and found it protective as well.

The study looked at 944 consecutive men and women, and during follow-up, those with the highest blood levels of EPA and ALA were also those with the lowest risk of adverse symptoms, they concluded. So if you want to avoid heart disease or recover from it, eat your Omega-3 foods. Here are The 7 Best Sources of Omega-3s on a Plant-Based Diet.