In response to a systematic review and meta-analysis published March 17, “Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids with Coronary Risk,” in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association representing the dietary supplement industry, issued the following statement:
Statement by Duffy MacKay, N.D., senior vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, CRN:
“There are thousands of studies and decades of recommendations from government, academic, nutritional and medical organizations and experts supporting the important heart health benefits associated with diets high in polyunsaturated fats, low in saturated fats, and avoidance of trans fats. Omega-3 fatty acids—found in fatty fish such as salmon or sardines and in dietary supplements—are polyunsaturated fats, also known as ‘the good fats.’ Guidelines from the American Heart Association and the U.S. government’s nutrition policy standards, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, are among the medical/nutrition authorities that have specific recommendations on the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet.
“This systematic review and meta-analysis raises an interesting viewpoint, but an unfortunate, and potentially irresponsible one, for consumers who will once again be subject to nutritional guidance whiplash.
“We were pleased to see the researchers recognized that studying nutrition has different nuances than studying drugs, and therefore included the wide breadth of research, including biomarker studies, observational studies and randomized controlled trials in their systematic review and meta-analysis. Unfortunately, their conclusions, if taken to heart, leave consumers to rely on genetics and fate to avoid coronary heart disease, an unacceptable situation given the fact that the scientific literature contains so many studies that point to benefit for omega-3 fatty acids.
“One of the limitations of meta-analyses such as this one is that the results are subject to the researcher-imposed criteria for number crunching; but even with those limitations, the results trended toward benefit for omega-3 fatty acids. Here’s what I tell my family and my patients: there is no such thing as certainty when it comes to whether you will develop heart disease, but there are smart choices we can make to help reduce our risk. If you want to play an active role in staying heart healthy, the best advice remains the same: eat a healthy diet rich in polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3s, add omega-3 supplements if you’re not eating enough fatty fish, and exercise regularly.”