Science and Health

Are Fish Oil Benefits A Myth?

New research says omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil might not be as beneficial in preventing heart disease as previously thought.

Are Fish Oil Benefits A Myth?
Wikimedia Commons / Adrian Wold

Fish oil supplements are supposed to have many heart benefits, but new reports claim they might not be any better than any other dietary fats.

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are said to help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of "good" cholesterol; whereas, saturated fats increase levels of "bad" cholesterol. (Via Nature Made)

But two separate studies — from the University of Cambridge and University of Ioannina — published this week say the so-called healthy fats don't really protect against overall risk of heart disease as believed. (Via Bloomberg)

According to HealthDay, a researcher for one of the studies says saturated fats aren't the problem and they actually carry the same risk for heart disease as other fats, including unsaturated fats and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

But don't throw out that bottle of fish oil supplements just yet.

According to Businessweek, a nutrition professor says the American Heart Association's current recommendations for dietary fish oil should still be followed because "they came from five years of review and they're based on a lot of different studies."

After all, one of the recent studies was a meta-analysis of many other past studies — meaning there could be biases and inaccuracies in each study analyzed. (Via Annals of Internal Medicine)

And CNN reports although there is no consensus on how much and which types of fatty acids are best, it's agreed avoiding trans fats and increasing consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains contribute to a healthy heart.

The researchers also note consumers should focus on getting omega-3 fatty acids from food sources rather than supplements.