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Doubts raised over omega 3 supplements

Wednesday July 18th, 2018

There is little evidence that taking omega 3 supplements helps prevent cardiovascular disease, according to an analysis published today.

Experts said the findings highlighted that supplements are not a substitute for a healthy diet.

Researchers looked at the three main types of omega 3 fatty acids: alpha­linolenic acid found nuts and seeds, and eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid which are found in fatty fish.

The researchers led by Dr Asmaa Abdelhamid at the University of East Anglia, UK, looked collectively at 25 studies from North America, Europe, Australia and Asia on the effects of consuming additional omega 3 fat, compared to usual or lower omega 3, on diseases of the heart and circulation. Results are published today (18 July) in the Cochrane Library.

Omega 3 intake overall appeared to have little or no beneficial effect on heart disease, stroke or death. The risk of death from any cause was 8.8% in people who had increased their intake of omega 3 fats, compared with 9% in people in the control groups.

"Long-chain omega 3 fats probably did reduce some blood fats, triglycerides and high density lipoprotein cholesterol," they write.

There was insufficient evidence on any harms from consuming omega 3 supplements to reach any conclusion on side-effects.

Victoria Taylor the British Heart Foundation commented: “Supplements are no replacement for a healthy diet.

“Our message is clear - rather than taking supplements to reduce your risk of having another heart attack or stroke, you should focus on eating a healthy, balanced, Mediterranean style diet."

Abdelhamid, A. S. et al. Omega 3 fatty acids for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 18 July 2018; doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003177.pub3.

Tags: Diet & Food | Heart Health | UK News

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