For years, Americans have been taking fish oil and other types of omega-3 supplements. Their goal was heart protection, but it seems that expectation is unrealistic.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Heart Protection:
The hope was that these long-chain fatty acids would lower cholesterol and triglycerides and reduce the likelihood of arterial plaque and heart attacks. The American Heart Association even recommended that heart patients eat fish or take fish oil. The scientists based that recommendation on the best available evidence at the time, early in 2017.
Now, a new meta-analysis has thrown the heart protection provided by omega-3 supplements into question (Aung et al, JAMA Cardiology, online January 31, 2018). It evaluated 10 randomized clinical trials including almost 78,000 people at high risk of heart attacks or strokes. The participants were randomly assigned to get placebo pills or supplements with omega-3 fats.
The Envelope, Please:
The results show no difference in the rate of heart attack deaths and strokes whether people took placebo or fish oil.
According to the investigators,
“It [the study] provides no support for current recommendations for the use of such supplements in people with a history of coronary heart disease.”
They doubt that fish oil pills will provide much, if any, heart protection. It is important to remember that the study did not address the question of including fish in the diet, as most heart experts recommend.