One news headline read, “Fish Oil Delivers Few Heart Benefits, Study Finds.” This type of media hype drives me nuts because some people will read that headline, stop taking fish oil, and we can watch all cardiac events rise!
For this study, researchers examined 14 clinical trials which included more than 20,000 people who all had a history of cardiovascular disease. When they looked at the data, they discovered that there was no difference in the likelihood of a repeat cardiovascular event, or a cardiovascular related death, in those who took fish oil versus a placebo.
But Research Supports that Fish Oil Benefits Help with Heart Disease
What they didn’t tell you is that more than 20,000 articles have supported fish oil benefits in preventing heart disease. Plus, the researchers completely overlooked the GISSI prevention trial, which is considered the gold standard of fish oil studies.
In the GISSI trial researchers monitored more than 11,000 highly vulnerable patients who suffered a recent heart attack and found that patients who took one gram of fish oil a day had 40 percent fewer deaths than patients not taking fish oil. In fact, that trial was stopped early because the patients taking the placebo were dying at faster rates.
What’s the Best Way to Get Fish Oil Benefits?
- To get fish oil benefits, you need to take at least one gram of omega-3 rich fish oil each day, preferably two. Many over-the-counter fish oil supplements deliver far less than one gram, with some containing as little as 300 mg. Those small doses won’t protect your heart.
- DHA omega-3s are critical. Research has shown that while both the EPA and DHA omega-3s found in fish oil are important, it’s the DHA omega-3s that reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. So you want to make sure you’re getting at least 550 mg of DHA per day.
- Ensure that any fish oil you take isn’t oxidized. Taking oxidized fish oil, which means air got into the oil, is like eating trans-fatty acids. It can cause serious heart damage. Make sure any fish oil softgel you take isn’t cracked or leaking, which can cause oxidation. Also avoid liquid fish oil supplements, even if they’re refrigerated, since the oil can be oxidized.
- Purity is also critical. You want to ensure that any fish oil supplement you take is free of mercury, PCBs, and other contaminants.