Are you one of the people contributing to the $1.1 billion in sales of omega-3 fish oil supplements last year, as reported by USA Today?
A study released last week finds fish oil supplements high in omega-3 fatty acids have no major benefit to heart health, although they may still benefit other medical conditions.
In the study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers examined 20 clinical trials involving omega-3 fatty acid supplements derived from fish oil and found no significant association between the supplements and incidences of cardiac-related deaths, heart attacks or strokes.
A few days ago, I wrote here about the discovery that taking large doses of vitamin C does no good and may actually be harmful to your health. Much better to find your Vitamin C in natural food sources. This has also been proven for other vitamins.
Now medical professionals are making similar claims about omega-3.
From one green planet:
Medical professionals have long recommended omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid after seeing low rates of heart disease among cultures with diets rich in omega-3. But the new study suggests a difference between taking fish oil supplements and consuming foods that are naturally high in omega-3 like certain types of fish, walnuts, flax seeds, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. Studies have shown that eating these foods can extend the lives of people who have already had a heart attack.
The report states specifically:
Overall, omega-3 PUFA supplementation was not associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, cardiac death, sudden death, myocardial infarction, or stroke based on relative and absolute measures of association.
Here’s a quick primer on why consuming omega-3 is important, from the Harvard School of Public Health:
The human body can make most of the types of fats it needs from other fats or raw materials. That isn’t the case for omega-3 fatty acids (also called omega-3 fats and n-3 fats). These are essential fats—the body can’t make them from scratch but must get them from food.
What makes omega-3 fats special? They are an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body and affect the function of the cell receptors in these membranes. They provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation.
But instead of taking a supplement try turning to these omega-3 food sources:
• Vegetable oils
• Nuts (especially walnuts)
• Flax seeds
• Flaxseed oil
• Leafy vegetables
Eating a balanced diet, with healthy non-processed foods, is the way to maintain heart health, according to the experts. Expecting a magical cure from one supplement is not the way to go.
As my mother used to say: “Eat your vegetables!”
Photo Credit: The Idea Desk