Thursday, March 23, 2006

Omega 3s and your heart - link severed?

Heart experts urged consumers to continue eating oily fish and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids despite research showing they may have no clear health benefits.

A review of 89 studies published by the British Medical Journal showed no strong evidence that omega-3 fats reduced deaths from cardiovascular disease. The few studies at low risk of bias were more consistent, but they also showed no effect of omega 3 on total mortality or cardiovascular events. But, Dr. Mike Knapton, of the British Heart Foundation, said more research is needed before people change their eating habits.

"To understand the effects of omega 3 fats on health, we need more high quality randomised controlled trials of long duration that also report the associated harms," they conclude.
"We are faced with a paradox," says Eric Brunner in an accompanying editorial. Health recommendations advise increased consumption of oily fish and fish oils. However, industrial fishing has depleted the world's fish stocks by some 90% since 1950, and rising fish prices reduce affordability particularly for people with low incomes.

"Whatever amount of oily fish you consume, the impact on your risk of heart disease is negligible compared to the benefits of quitting smoking, doing regular exercise and eating a diet low in saturated fats," Knapton added.

Though we await controlled research, his last statement is so true. Cut the saturated and trans fat. Lose weight and exercise. Eat 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

The fish will thank you, too.

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