A healthy heart is important to maintain, especially as we lead more and more stressful and longer lives. It becomes imperative to keep the ticker in great shape for as long as possible and this can be achieved by leading a healthy, balanced and active lifestyle.
People like to enhance their active lifestyle with daily omega-3 tablets and the best way to do this was to take fish-oil supplements, in liquid or tablet form. Raw fish is processed to separate the fish from fat-free dry solids, fats and water.
However, recently the claim that fish oil has coronary benefits has been disputed, in the form of a Cochrane review. Cochrane reviews are meta-analyses which comb through as many quality studies as possible to look into important health questions. With fish oil supplements being a $30 billion dollar industry this is an important question to answer.
It was previously thought that by increasing your omega-3 intake you built up preventative protection against coronary heart troubles such as attacks, angina, cardiac arrest, and arrhythmia. The recent Cochrane review found by reviewing 79 different trials consisting of 112,059 participants that there is little or no difference to the risk of heart problems such as coronary heart disease, stroke or heart irregularities. The research concluded that the benefits of taking fish oil tablets could be as little as 1 in 1000.
So should we shun the omega-3’s all together? Just by isolating the all-important fish oil from everything else which usually comes from consuming oily fresh fish, as part of a regular healthy and balanced diet, it probably has a positive effect. But going for a ‘quick-fix’ to benefit or fix a problem is never helpful and expensive. Similar conclusions have been drawn about red meat while excluding the fact many red meat eaters smoke, eat unhealthy fried accompaniments with their red meats.
In conclusion, the evidence seems to suggest fish oil in isolation to be making little to no difference for our heart health, but this doesn’t mean you should throw out the baby with the bath water, please keep to a balanced diet including fatty fish at least once a week.
Remember that omega-3 is not just limited to benefitting your heart, it has other important functions such as maintaining the eyes and your immune function. If you’re not particularly keen on eating fresh fish and believe your fish oil supplements help, then carry on taking them.
View the Cochrane website for more research information.