Is It Time to Give Up on Fish Oil?

Is It Time to Give Up on Fish Oil?

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About 15 years ago, when my cholesterol level began an inexplicable climb, I tried a slew of suggested dietary remedies that included eating more fish, along with a daily supplement of fish oil, which research at the time suggested would help prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Alas, my body disdained my efforts and I finally had to take a statin. But I continued to follow a heart-healthy diet laden with vegetables and fish and took 1,200 milligrams of fish oil every night.

I now suspect that those thousands of gel-covered capsules I’ve swallowed over the years may have done little more than enrich the pockets of supplement producers and sellers. A number of extensive analyses have been conducted, some supporting and others refuting the value of fish oils to the cardiovascular system, along with studies of other purported health benefits that also have had mixed results.

The supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids, the polyunsaturated oils prominent in fatty cold water fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel. In many observational studies, people who regularly consumed fish two or more times a week were less likely to suffer heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular deaths than those who ate fish infrequently or not at all.

Enthusiasm for fish oils originated with reports decades ago that Eskimos, who consume lots of cold water fish, have surprisingly low rates of heart disease despite a diet very high in animal fat.“This idea has since been pretty discredited; we really don’t know if the Eskimos got heart disease or not,” said Malden C. Nesheim, emeritus professor of nutrition at Cornell University, who chaired an Institute of Medicine committee assessing the risks and benefits of seafood in the early 2000s. “I’ve been an omega-3 skeptic since doing this study.”…

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/26/well/is-it-time-to-give-up-on-fish-oil.html

Source: NY Times