Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be beneficial for heart health, which is why some people opt to get their daily dose in the form of a supplement if they can’t get it through diet alone. But eating fish is better than taking omega-3 supplements, according to Dr Chris, who warned supplements could actually put you at more risk of heart problems.
His comments come in light of a new study that suggests some omega-3 supplements can raise your risk of heart disease.
Stating it’s always better to get essential vitamins and minerals from foods rather than artificially produce supplements, Dr Chris told This Morning: “Supplements can contain EPA and DHA. Combined together they could actually put you at more risk of heart disease.”
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are two of the main types of omega-3 fatty acids.
Previous research suggests high doses of EPA lessens a person’s risk of major cardiovascular events, such as heart attack, heart failure and stroke.
But in a recently published clinical trial, those at high risk of cardiac events took a supplement that contained EPA and DHA and didn’t experience any reduction in risk at all.
The results of the study were presented at the virtual 2021 conference of the American College of Cardiology.
While participants’ blood levels were high in EPA, which they found to be associated with a reduced risk of major cardiovascular events, rising DHA levels appeared to cancel out EPA’s benefits.
Oily fish, such as sardines, salmon and mackerel are the best source of EPA and DHA, says Heart UK.
White fish and shellfish contain some omega 3s, but in smaller amounts.
The charity doesn’t recommend omega-3 supplements, and says it’s always best to get your nutrients from foods rather than supplements.
It explains: “Foods contain a whole range of different nutrients which improve your health in different ways.
“But supplements only contain specific nutrients.”
We should eat at least one portion (around 140g when cooked) of oily fish a week, says the NHS.
The health body warns: “Oily fish can contain low levels of pollutants that can build up in the body. For this reason, there are maximum recommendations for the number of portions some groups should be eating each week.
“The following people should eat no more than 2 portions of oily fish a week:
- women who are planning a pregnancy or may have a child one day
- pregnant and breastfeeding women
“This is because pollutants found in oily fish may build up in the body and affect the future development of a baby in the womb.”