There appears to be precious little evidence of the benefits to individuals of fish oil supplements, according to research out of the University of Auckland in New Zealand and, more recently, a US study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The researchers at the University of Auckland found that if you’re hoping to help your heart by consuming fish oil supplements, you might want to stop hoping and switch to eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. But, you should do so in moderation. Researchers analyzed the results of 18 randomized clinical trials between 2005 and 2012 and found essentially no basis for recommending people take fish oil supplements.
The US researchers tested whether fish oil supplements help people with dry eye, a common condition in which the eye is inflamed, causing vision problems and pain. In their study 500 people received either fish oil supplements or a dummy pill every day over a year. They found that people who took the supplements had the same symptoms at the end of the year as people who took the dummy pill.
So, instead of taking fish oil supplements, eat mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut and salmon, which all provide omega-3 fatty acids, otherwise known as fish oil. Eating broiled or baked fish could reduce your risk of cardiac death. But, beware, if you eat fried fish, you likely increase your risk of heart disease.
Eating fish also may increase your exposure to methylmercury. Swordfish, king mackerel, shark, or tilefish have high levels of methylmercury. Higher mercury consumption is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease; however results are mixed. As always, the key is moderation and a balanced diet.
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