Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be very beneficial for your heart health. This is why some people choose to get their daily dose in the form of a dietary supplement when they cannot get it through food alone. However, new research suggests that not all omega-3 supplements offer health benefits for your heart.
First of all, there are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). ALA is found primarily in vegetable oils like canola, flaxseed, and soybeans, as well as oils, according to the National Institutes of Health, while DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood.
Research to date suggests that high doses of EPA reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular events such as heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. However, the results of a recently published clinical study showed that those at high risk for cardiac events who were taking a supplement that contained a combination of DHA and EPA experienced no risk reduction at all. The results were published in a study and presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 2021 virtual conference.
Although participants’ blood levels in the EPA were high (which was associated with a reduced risk of a serious cardiovascular event), increasing DHA levels appeared to offset the benefits of EPA.
“The advice that you take omega-3s for the benefit of your heart is widespread, but previous studies have shown that science does not confirm this for every single omega-3 system,” according to lead investigator Viet T. Le, an assistant to a cardiovascular physician at the institute, told Medical News Today.
“Our results show that not all omega-3s are created equal, and that EPA and DHA together, as often found in dietary supplements, can negate the benefits that patients and their doctors are hoping for.”
For now, consider only taking EPA supplements or sticking to foods that are naturally high in EPA, like salmon, canned sardines, and shellfish. Check out the 26 Best Omega-3 Foods to Help Fight Inflammation and Support Heart Health for more ideas.