Review: Omega-3 fatty acids may still help prevent heart disease

Published on November 29, 2012 at 4:22 AM · No Comments

The point, Jump said, is not that omega-3 fatty acids have no value - they do. But for studies of their value in cardiovascular disease, which are often done when patients are taking other medications, that value is less clear.

A wide body of other research, he says, makes it clear that omega-3 fatty acids also have health benefits that go beyond cardiovascular disease. They have been shown to improve visual acuity; improve cognitive function and reduce dementia; reduce inflammation and perhaps some types of cancer, such as colon cancer; and reduce total mortality.

Among the findings of this review:

  • An important type of omega-3 fatty acid for human health is DHA, which is the predominant omega-3 fatty acid that accumulates in tissues.
  • Plant-derived sources of these fatty acids, such as flaxseed oil or chia seeds, have less benefit than those from cold-water fish, because of differences in how the human body processes these nutrients.
  • For individuals unwilling or unable to consume fish or fish-oil supplements, some products made from yeast or algae are high quality.
  • It's difficult to be certain of the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in farm-raised fish, since these fish require dietary omega-3 supplementation.

"We still believe the evidence is strong that the EPA and DHA content in heart tissues and blood is important to health and to the prevention of cardiovascular disease," Jump said. "To meet the current recommendations for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, individuals are advised to consume 200-300 milligrams of combined EPA and DHA per day."

Source: Oregon State University

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