Cardiovascular disease is one of the Australia’s leading causes of health problems and mortality. It kills one Australian every 12 minutes and causes a big burden on the Australian economy.
The Mediterranean diet and all its components of which Omega 3 is an essential part, has been found to be beneficial in the management and prevention of cardiovascular disease. An essential part of the Mediterranean diet is 3 servings a week of fish such as salmon or tuna, providing Omega 3 fatty acids.
Additionally, to provide Omega-3 often lacking in the daily diet, Fish Oil supplementation is highly recommended and supported by research.
Omega-3 fatty acids are supported by research to be beneficial to assist in the management of the following factors that can play a role in cardiovascular disease:
- To reduce blood pressure and lipids
- Improve endothelial function
- Manage waist circumference
- Improve blood glucose levels
- Anti-inflammatory effects
- Anti-oxidant properties
And yet a recent Cochrane review, found strong evidence that fish oil does nothing to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events.
What does the Australia Heart Foundation say in response to the Cochrane report?
“Heart Foundation chief medical adviser, cardiologist Professor Garry Jennings, said the Cochrane review found omega 3 supplementation was neither helpful nor harmful for heart health in people with or without heart disease.
“This aligns with the Heart Foundation’s current position, which does not advise that health professionals routinely recommend omega-3 supplements for heart health.
“However, omega-3 supplements can be of value in people with high triglyceride levels and there is some evidence for considering their use in heart failure.”
Professor Jennings said the report did not assess the role of fish (a source of omega-3) in a healthy eating pattern, and so does not affect current recommendations to include 2-3 serves of fish per week as part of a heart healthy diet.
The Heart Foundation’s recommendations for omega-3 supplements align with international guidelines, such as those from the European Society of Cardiology, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), the American Heart Association, and the American College of Cardiology.
These guidelines do not advise routine recommendation of omega-3 supplements for heart health by health professionals but do recommend the use of omega-3 supplements for those with high triglyceride levels, and as an additional treatment for heart failure”1.
Why take fish oil?
The benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids to promote healthy cardiovascular and aging and managing chronic diseases are well known and supplementation may be extremely beneficial.
Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease should be the aim of our aging population. Identifying cardiovascular risk factors and taking the necessary steps for prevention, from simple dietary and lifestyle changes to open-heart surgery will put you in good stead to live a healthy and balanced long life.
Janne Ramsay is a senior naturopath at Mr Vitamins Wellbeing Clinic. She has an interest in cardiovascular health due to both her parents’ family cardiovascular disease history and her husband needing a double by-pass last year, despite the lack of any typical identifiable markers. If you would like to find out more you can make a booking to see her here
- Omega 3 supplements & fish oil don’t help hearts: new evidence. Available from:https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/news/omega-3-supplements-and-fish-oil-dont-help-hearts-new-evidence
- Widmer JR, et al. The Mediterranean Diet, it’s components and Cardiovascular Disease. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4339461/