Get more fish oil, says Heart Foundation


fish oil capsules in the mouth of a fish

The Heart Foundation has reviewed its position on fish oil, and is now urging Australians to eat two to three serves of fish (including oily fish) each week.

The Heart, Lung & Circulation Journal this week published an evidence review to inform the Foundation’s position on fish and omega-3, including fish oil supplements.

National Heart Foundation CEO Mary Barry says that in 2013 the Foundation commended a review of its evidence and position on omega-3 polyunsaturated fat, fish oil and fish. Experts in cardiology, nutrition and cardiovascular disease donated their time to conduct the review.

“The need for this review arose from new research being published and as an evidence based organisation it was important we updated our 2008 position to reflect this,” Barry says.

“Recent scientific evidence assessed as part of our review found higher fish intake was consistently associated with lower rates of sudden cardiac death, stroke, heart failure and heart attack.”

The recommendations of the review are that:

  • the Heart Foundation is urging all Australians to eat two-three serves of fish, including oily fish, each week to reduce their risk of heart disease Oily fish includes; salmon, blue-eye trevally, blue mackerel, herring, canned salmon, sardines and some varieties of canned tuna;
  • eating fish is the recommended way to consume essential Omega-3 nutrients for heart health; however supplements will provide people who do not eat fish with some level of marine-sourced Omega-3s. There is no evidence to suggest that Omega-3 supplements are harmful in any way; and
  • omega-3 supplements can play a beneficial role in the treatment of those with high triglycerides.

ASMI responded saying the new research reinforces the importance of dietary fish oils for cardiovascular health.

“While we always welcome new research that adds to the knowledge base, in this case the question of whether people get enough fish oils in their diet needs to be asked,” says ASMI executive director Dr Deon Schoombie.

“Essential nutrients should come from a healthy diet, however, research shows that 60% of Australians don’t eat the recommended amount of fish each week.

“We are pleased that the Heart Foundation recognises this challenge and agrees that supplements will provide people who don’t eat fish with some level of marine-sourced omega-3s.”

He says most people who use omega-3 supplements do so for reasons other than heart health.

“Industry research tells us that 86% of people who buy omega-3 supplements do so for joint health and general wellbeing,” he says.

“With the majority of Australian’s continuing not to eat enough fish, omega-3 supplements still play an important role in helping people to consume marine-sourced omega-3s.”

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