Omega-3 supplements and fish oil don’t help hearts: new evidence

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New health evidence shows there is no effect of omega-3 supplements on reducing the risk of heart disease including heart attack and stroke or death from cardiovascular disease.

The comprehensive review published in the Cochrane Library, found that increasing the main types of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) naturally found in fish and fish oils and readily available as over-the-counter supplements, do not benefit heart health.

The review combined the results of 79 randomised trials involving more than 100,000 people, including men and women from Australia.

Heart Foundation comment

Heart Foundation chief medical adviser, cardiologist Professor Garry Jennings, said the Cochrane review found omega 3 supplementation was neither helpful nor harmful for heart health in people with or without heart disease.

“This aligns with the Heart Foundation’s current position, which does not advise that health professionals routinely recommend omega-3 supplements for heart health.

“However, omega-3 supplements can be of value in people with high triglyceride levels and there is some evidence for considering their use in heart failure.” 

Professor Jennings said the report did not assess the role of fish (a source of omega-3) in a healthy eating pattern, and so does not affect current recommendations to include 2-3 serves of fish per week as part of a heart-healthy diet.

The Heart Foundation’s recommendations for omega-3 supplements align with international guidelines, such as those from the European Society of Cardiology, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), the American Heart Association, and the American College of Cardiology.

These guidelines do not advise routine recommendation of omega-3 supplements for heart health by health professionals but do recommend the use of omega-3 supplements for those with high triglyceride levels and as an additional treatment for heart failure.

 

For further interviews please contact Fleur Jacobs, National Media Adviser, Heart Foundation, 0427 591 638, fleur.jacobs@heartfoundation.org.au