Omega 3 and Heart Health—What’s The Real Score?

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It was previously believed that Omega 3 and other fatty acids found in fish and other plants can prevent heart disease, but recent studies conclude otherwise. The study of Danish researchers involving about 3,300 people found out that generally, people who ate more fatty acids were not very much protected from developing ischemic heart diseases compared to those people who ate less of those nutrients.

However, the study also found out that women who took most omega-3 fatty acids which are common in fish and oil supplements appeared to have benefited. Said women appeared to have about 40% lower risk of developing heart diseases than those women who tool less amounts of the said fatty acids. The study also appeared in the American Journal of Nutrition.

“Because food is so environmentally specific, you can’t just assume what has been observed in one population is necessarily true for another,” said Lichtenstein who is also the Director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University. She also said that studying the effects of nutrients with heart health may be very tricky since it may be a case to case basis and depends greatly on the person’s internal environment.

It can be remembered that back in 2004, the Food and Drug Administration found a supportive but not conclusive evidence that Omega 3 can lessen the risk for heart diseases and recommended to take no more than three grams per day, with no more than two grams coming from dietary supplements.

Apart from Omega 3 Fatty acids, the group also investigated on the effects of linoleic acid, a similar nutrient found in plants, and its effects to the cardiovascular health. The study involved about 3,277 men and women living in the Copenhagen metropolitan area.

The group followed up after an average period of 23.3 years and found out that 471 participants developed ischemic heart disease. They also found out that only women who reported eating most omega 3 fatty acids benefited from the said nutrient. The women who ate most omega 3 fatty acids (about 11.2 grams each day) had about 38% lower risk of developing ischemic heart diseases compared to those who take less than 0.2 grams each day.

According to Mia Vedtofte of the National Institute of Public Health at the University of Southern Denmark, “High intake of omega-3 fatty acids had a significant cardioprotective effect among women.” She also said that men who took more omega 3 fatty acids also seemed to have benefited but the difference is too small that it could be more due to chances. She added that more people should be involved in the study to make the results more conclusive.

Vedtofte also further shared that their group were also surprised that the said nutrient showed little effect in the prevention of heart disease, generally.  Said Lichtenstein, “There are data to show that for people with established disease, they will benefit” from supplements.”




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