Fish oil pills are very popular – but do they provide the health benefits that are claimed? A new study posted on the JAMA Cardiology website has failed to find any coronary heart disease protection from using fish oil supplements. This study based its results on 10 other large clinical trials and is a type of study known as a “meta-analysis”. It reinforces the similar findings of a report published by the AHA last year.
While it has been shown that populations that consume lots of fish have a much lower rate of cardiovascular disease and events studies have failed to link the same benefits to using fish oil. Some smaller scale studies have shown benefits, but large-scale studies, including those reviewing the use of prescription fish oil have not been able to make the same connection. It has been proposed that the health benefits of fish derive from it being a lean protein and the content of omega-3 fats – which have significant health benefits.
Based on these studies, it seems that eating fish, rather than taking fish oil supplements is the best option. Fish is a lean protein – and protein is an essential part of your diet. Protein serves as the structural foundation for every cell in your body. Eating fish may displace the consumption of other less healthy proteins – such as red meat. Secondly, fatty fish such as salmon and sardines contain very large amounts of omega-3 fats. These are a type of essential fat – so called because it is required by the body for proper function but can’t be created by the body. Omega-3 fats have been linked with significant health benefits, including: decreased triglyceride levels, slowing the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque, and slightly lower blood pressure.
Our recommendation? Skip the fish oil pills and incorporate two or more 3.5 ounce servings of fish in your diet weekly (preferably wild caught salmon), as recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA). Be careful that most salmon served in restaurants is farmed salmon. Wild caught salmon is preferable because it contains fewer toxins and heavy metals that are found in fish raised in over-crowded fish farms.
- Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids,
American Heart Association