Omega-3 debate: not good for the heart?

Omega-3 debate: not good for the heart?

Are fish oils containing DHA and EPA good for your heart, or not? The influential New England Journal of Medicine has published studies recently coming down on one side of that equation.

In its Nov. 1 edition, the New England Journal of Medicine ran two letters to the editor contesting its July 26 edition study that found 1g/day omega-3 fatty acids did not reduce the rate of heart attack deaths in patients with type 2 diabetes. In that study, 12,536 patients were randomized to receive a total of 465 mg EPA and 375 mg DHA. Apart from a lowering of triglyceride levels – the one reason pharma omega-3s are prescribed – there was no effect seen.

The more compelling letter concerned whether the placebo – olive oil – would not also be cardioprotective because of anti-inflammatory activity and ability to keep blood platelets from becoming sticky and clotting, as well as effects on the lining of blood vessel walls.

The researchers noted that because the numbers of patients who died from cardiovascular events was similar and within the range of what the researchers expected at the outset, that the more likely scenario is not that both olive oil and fish oil are cardioprotective, but rather that neither are.

This assertion is confounding to the Mediterranean Diet results, which pins much of its cardioprotective benefits on intake of olive oil.

Click here to see the New England Journal of Medicine letters.

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