More evidence in favour of Omega-3s for a healthy heart

New research links blood levels of Omega-3 fatty acids from seafood and plant-based foods with a lower risk of dying from a heart attack.



This research, published in June in the journal JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association), combined the results of 19 studies from around the world including nearly 46 000 people. They found that people with the highest amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids in their blood or body tissues had a 10% lower risk of dying from a heart attack during the length of the studies.

Fish are the main source of Omega-3s, and, some studies have shown that fish oil supplements or omega 3s are good for our heart health, while others haven’t shown any effect. Most studies have relied on people estimating how much fish or fish oils they eat, which isn’t a reliable measure of how much they ate in reality. This new study measured Omega-3s in the blood or body tissue, giving a much more accurate idea.  

What are Omega-3s?
Omega-3s are a type of fat which can be found in seafood, particularly oily fish, as well as some plant foods, such as rapeseed oil. There are different types of fat in our diet – saturated, and unsaturated. While unsaturated fats can raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease, unsaturated fats may help control cholesterol. 

The British Dietetic Association say that Omega-3 fats may help prevent the blood from clotting, help regulate the heart rhythm and are important for improving survival after a heart attack. 

Foods high in Omega-3s
Oily fish including pilchards, mackerel, salmon and sardines are high in Omega-3s. NHS Choices recommend eating at least two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish (a portion is around 140g or 4.9oz) but most of us aren't eating this much.

Some plant foods contain Omega-3s, but in much smaller amounts, for example rapeseed, soya, flax, linseed oils, and walnuts.

Where can I find out more? 

The original article is available online.
Try this quick and healthy recipe for Maple and mustard glazed salmon
NHS Choices has more information about fats and oily fish.
You can read more about fats in this fact sheet from The British Dietetic Association