Why Fish Oil Is Good For You

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Doctors and health officials have long urged the public to eat more fish since the healthy fats in fish tend to lower risk of heart attacks and other heart problems. In fact, the most recent dietary guidelines recommend that Americans eat more fatty fish per week. (About half of Americans don’t eat any fish at all, or consume it only occasionally.)

But lately, there’s been confusion over whether the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids from food or supplements actually lead to healthier hearts and fewer cases of heart disease. For example, some studies suggest that fish oil supplements, which contain the active ingredients eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acids (DHA), may not lower risk of having a heart attack, but may lead to fewer fatal ones.

In a study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, researchers reviewing 34 studies on EPA and DHA from food and supplements, as well as heart disease risk, found evidence of the benefits of omega-3 fats in reducing heart problems.

The analysis included gold-standard clinical trials as well as population-based studies, which looked for trends among people eating or taking omega-3s and those who did not over longer periods of time. Overall, those consuming more fish oil in the population studies lowered their risk by 18%.

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