An extensive epidemiological study including researchers across the globe found that eating omega-3s has the potential to lower risk of dying from heart attacks.
For the work, scientists from around the world joined together to form the Fatty Acids and Outcomes Research Consortium. They evaluated relationships between omega-3 intake and heart disease over time from findings pooled from large and diverse studies. They included 19 studies from 16 countries with 45,637 subjects. Researchers then conducted new standardized, individual-level analyses, pooling findings in a meta-analysis.
Omega-3s (both plant-based and seafood-based) were associated with about a 10 percent lower risk of fatal heart attacks. The researchers did not find a link between fatty acid biomarkers and the risk of nonfatal heart attacks, suggesting a more specific mechanism for benefits of omega-3s related to death, according to a statement from Tufts University about the work.
"These new results, including many studies which previously had not reported their findings, provide the most comprehensive picture to-date of how omega-3s may influence heart disease," said lead researcher Liana C. Del Gobbo, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow in the division of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, in the release. Del Gobbo conducted this study as part of her postdoctoral work with Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, PhD, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. "Across these diverse studies, findings were also consistent by age, sex, race, presence or absence of diabetes, and use of aspirin or cholesterol-lowering medications," Del Gobbo said.
The study results were published this summer in JAMA Internal Medicine. Despite the growing pile of evidence that omegas help protect the heart, 77 percent of adults don’t know that having low levels of the fatty acids can be harmful to health, according to a survey by the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s.