Low-dose omega-3 fatty acids not effective against heart disease


Omega 3 fatty acids are poly-unsaturated fatty acids. Studies show that a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids may help lower triglyceride levels, decrease the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heart beat),  increase HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and slow the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque. A recent Dutch study unveils, though, in general omega-3 fatty acids are healthy for heart patients, but low-dose doesn’t appear to provide any benefit to the vast majority of heart patients.

About the study
Daan Kromhout, study author from the division of human nutrition at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, is presenting the findings on Sunday at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Stockholm. The study involved more than 4,800 Dutch heart attack patients between the ages of 60 and 80.  All patients had experienced a heart attack at some point in last 10 years and were on blood pressure medications, anti-clotting drugs and statins.

During the study, patients were randomly instructed to consume one of four different types of margarines: one supplemented with low dose omega-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA); one supplemented with the low dose of the plant-derived alpha-linolenic acid (ALA); one supplemented with low dose of both omega-3 fatty acids and ALA; and one with no supplements.

On average, patients took about 4 teaspoons (18.8 grams) of margarine a day on bread, which meant ingestion of an average of 226 milligrams of EPA combined with 150 milligrams of DHA omega-3 fatty acids and/or 1.9 grams of ALA.


Revelation of the...


The study was followed for 31/2 years and revealed that none of the low-dose supplements seemed to provide protection against such events in most of the patients.

  • 671 patients (14 percent) suffered a repeat attack with some cases ending in death
  • The risk of death, or repeat attack, was same between all groups

The study will appear online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Some researchers are not satisfied with the study results and claimed that margarine on a bread base may be a weak link. R. Scott Wright, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester believes the “trail design was faulty”. The bread, which is high in sodium, can pump up blood pressure further.


The omega-3 dose depends on how much you already get from food and what is the purpose of taking additional supplement? There are three kinds of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, DHA, and EPA. A daily intake of 2 grams of ALA is often recommended as part of a healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends taking 1 to 4 grams of DHA and EPA daily.

Source: businessweek


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