SVG Healthwatch: Omega-3 Still Healthy Despite New Claims
This week a study from the Netherlands reports that Omega-3 fatty acids were not found that heart-attack survivors who boosted their Omega-3 intake had the same risk of a second heart attack as those who did not supplement their diet with Omega-3 (for the complete story click here).
But the authors point out that their study volunteers were already being properly treated following their initial heart attack — about 85% of the volunteers were taking statins to lower their cholesterol and many also relied on medications to control their blood pressure. These powerful therapies may have put the patients at a low risk of a secondary event to begin with, and the study’s three-year follow-up simply may not have been long enough to capture any additional reduction in heart-related problems or deaths attributable to omega-3s.
The results should not discourage people from substituting omega-3 fats for animal fats when they can, says Alice Lichtenstein, professor of nutrition, science and policy at Tufts University and spokesperson for the American Heart Association. “We still don’t know whether there is benefit of omega-3 fatty acids as primary prevention [in a healthy population] or in a population that is less well treated. I don’t think this study would necessarily cause a change in the current recommendations,” she says.
Those guidelines advise most adults to consume two meals of fatty fish, such as salmon or mackerel, each week, amounting to an average of 400 mg to 500 mg of omega-3s in the diet per day. For people with heart disease, like those in the Dutch study, the recommendation is to double that amount.