Fish Oil No Replacement for Whole Foods

People who live in the world’s “Blue Zones” have been shown to enjoy greater longevity and health span which is attributed to healthy lifestyle habits including a diet rich in fatty fish that contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.  But if you are taking fish oil supplements to get the same benefits as eating fish, you may be surprised to learn that a large new study found that fish oil supplements do not prevent heart disease in the general public. 

According to a recent USNews HealthDay report, fish oil supplements are taken by about 1 in 5 people over the age of 60.  Although fish oil is linked with supporting brain and heart health as well as benefitting joints, and eyesight while boosting immunity, very little clinical evidence supports these claims.  Supplement dosage varies widely between brands but as yet no expert-recommended daily dosage has been established. 

Study co-author Dr. Ann Marie Navar suggests that people who are taking fish oil supplements for cardiovascular health, save their money and invest in a gym membership, medication to treat high blood pressure or cholesterol, or splurge on plenty of fresh vegetables at the grocery store.  Talk with your doctor before starting or stopping any over-the-counter or prescription medication or supplement. 

Fish is an excellent source of protein, and compared with other meats is low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids.  Eating a diet rich in seafood, along with whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, and nuts and legumes, provides important nutrients that work together to support overall health and well-being.  A single nutrient like fish oil can’t replicate this “synergistic effect”, Registered Dietitian Connie Diekman explained to USNews. 

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week. Fatty fish like salmon or sardines are highest in omega-2 fatty acids.  But if you or your family isn’t keen on eating anything too fishy-tasting, try milder, less fatty fish or use a firm white fish to make tacos or fisherman’s stew – taking the focus off the fish with plenty of vegetables and seasoning.