The benefits of omega-3 oils were thought to be far-reaching. Previous studies have shown that they help prevent conditions such as heart disease.
However, a recent review cast doubts about the health claims.
The benefits of omega-3 were thought to be many. Studies have shown that it prevents heart diseasePhoto credit: Getty Images
What Are the Perceived Benefits of Omega-3 Fish Oils?
Omega-3 oils have been thought to have numerous benefits related to their anti-inflammatory properties.
Omega-3 oils are found in certain nuts, seeds, and pasture feeds like grass-fed beef, as well as fatty fish like salmon and mackerel.
Supplements are prescribed to help conditions including:
- High cholesterol
- IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Macular degeneration
- Skin problems (eczema and psoriasis)
Omega-3 fish oils were thought to be beneficial for people with cancer, depression, and other illnessesPhoto credit: Getty Images
It’s also said to help prevent heart disease, and according to the NHS website, helping a baby’s nervous system develop is important for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
However, a recent review of studies involving 112,000 people appears to have invalidated these claims.
Researchers from the Cochrane Collaboration looked at a number of studies examining the benefits of omega-3 supplements and found that there was no evidence of any health benefit.
Cochrane’s lead author, Dr. Lee Hooper, of the University of East Anglia, said, “We can count on the results of this review, which violate the popular belief that long chain omega-3 supplements protect the heart.
Omega-3 capsules, which cost just £ 13 a year, provide a sufficient amount of the fatty acidPhoto credit: Getty Images
“This extensive systematic review included information from many thousands of people over long periods of time.
“Despite all this information, we see no protective effect.”
Dr. Lee added that the belief that omega-3 supplements have a beneficial effect came from some studies in the 1980s and 1990s that showed promising results.
She told The Guardian, “We’ve all believed it for a long time.
“But none of the attempts since then have shown these results.
“Somehow we didn’t adjust to these dates.”
The review was carried out at the request of the World Health Organization (WHO), which updated its guidelines on polyunsaturated fats.
A deficiency in omega-3 oils can be remedied by having a serving of salmon fish or fish oils at least twice a weekPhoto credit: Getty Images
How do I make sure I include omega-3 fish oils in my diet?
A deficiency in omega-3 oils can be remedied by eating a serving of salmon fish or fish oils at least twice a week.
A portion is rated by the NHS website as around 140 g (4.9 oz).
Women planning pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding should not eat more than two servings of fatty fish per week.
This is because pollutants in oily fish can affect a baby’s future development in the womb.
The recommended amount can also be taken through daily intake of omega-3 supplements.
Fish that have good sources of omega-3 oils
- Fresh tuna
- Dump trucks
What other foods contain omega-3 oils?
If you’re really not a fan of fish and would rather consume food than a capsule, don’t panic.
There are a number of other foods that are high in omega-3 oils, including:
- Grass-fed beef
- Chia seeds
How Much Omega-3 Should You Take?
Previous guidelines have stated that if you are going to go for nutritional supplements, you should look for omega-3 oil rather than fish liver oil.
You can ingest flax oil, but vegetable sources seem to be more difficult for our bodies to use than fish versions.
Look for brands that eat one to two servings of fatty fish per week, which equates to around 450 micrograms of EPA and DHA – the two most important omega-3 fatty acids – per daily dose for adults.