Can taking omega-3 protect us from heart disease?
The intake of omega-3 fatty acids is often touted as a simple way to protect the heart. But researchers have now found that there is really little evidence to protect against heart disease by taking omega-3 fatty acids.
The University of East Anglia scientists found in their current study that omega-3 fatty acid intake does not protect against heart disease. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews".
Data from more than 100,000 subjects were analyzed
The experts examined various studies in which a total of more than 100,000 people had participated. Little evidence of protection against heart disease was found. But despite the lack of protection, eating fatty fish can be recommended as part of a healthy diet, the researchers say. Because most of the studies dealt mainly with nutritional supplements instead of omega-3 intake through the consumption of fish. For example, the NHS advises that people should try to eat two servings of fish a week, at best one serving should be oily fish such as salmon, fresh tuna, or mackerel.
What are omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids contain so-called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body cannot manufacture itself. ALA are found in oily fish, fish oils and cod liver oil. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids also contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which can be produced from ALA in the body, but are also found in fatty fish, fish oils and cod liver oil. There is also milk, yogurt, bread and spreads that contain additional omega-3. When it comes to fish oil supplements, the results can disprove that dietary supplements with omega-3 have a protective effect on the heart, explains study author Dr. Lee Hooper from the University of East Anglia.
Omega-3 supplementation is not conducive to heart health
This large, systematic review included information from many thousands of people over long periods of time, yet no protective effect could be found, the doctor adds. The review provides good evidence that long-chain omega-3 supplements are not beneficial to heart health and do not reduce the risk of stroke or death. In the current study, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids consistently had little or no effect on cardiovascular health.
Some fish species can contain pollutants
Certain types of fish contain substances that can be harmful to health in large quantities. Shark, marlin and swordfish can contain small amounts of mercury and should not be consumed by women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant and by all children under the age of 16. But other people shouldn't eat more than one serving of these fish a week.
Better buy fish and vegetables
Dietary supplements are associated with additional costs. Therefore, experts who buy the products in the hope that they reduce the risk of heart disease should invest their money in vegetables and fresh fish. (as)