Studies Show You Can Pass On the Fish Oil

For years, healthcare providers have been recommending foods rich in omega-3s as part of a healthy diet as well as supplemental fish oil for individuals at risk for heart disease.  Recently the benefits of omega-3s have been called into question.  Are these foods and supplements as heart-healthy as we originally thought?

Dr. Moses Elisaf of the Journal of the American Medical Association performed an analysis of 20 studies dating back to 1989 concerning the effect of omega-3 supplementation on risk of death, heart attack and stroke.  His findings showed that individuals taking omega-3 supplements did have a slightly lower risk of heart attack, sudden death and stroke than those who did not take supplements.  The difference in risk however was so small that it is not statistically significant. 

Why are there so many conflicting studies regarding supplementation with omega-3's?  TIME suggests that early studies were not blind studies which may have affected findings.  Furthermore, current studies are done on cardiac patients who are using newer, better treatments for heartproblems than participants in earlier studies resulting in improved outcomes.

As a nurse practitioner, how should this study affect your practice?  Based on these results, it seems you can advise patients to put down their smelly fish tablets and look forward to a life filled with better breath!  The American Heart Association does continue to recommend a diet rich in oily fish to help increase levels of HDL.