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Ask Tufts Experts April 2018 Issue

Q. I take fish oil for heart health, but some of what I read in the health press says fish oil doesn’t do much. Should I stop taking it?

A. Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory and executive editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, answers: “Current recommendations do not support the use of fish oil supplements to prevent heart disease in otherwise healthy adults. But the recommendations do support a healthy dietary pattern that includes fish (seafood) at least twice a week. There is little evidence that taking fish oil supplements instead of eating fish is beneficial, and by doing so you will be losing out on some other benefits of including fish in your diet.

“One of those benefits comes from eating darker-fleshed fish like salmon and trout, which contain higher amounts of heart-healthy unsaturated fats than other species. However, including any type of seafood in your diet is highly recommended if it replaces major contributors of saturated fat, such as burgers or a piece of quiche.

“As with any effort to improve diet quality, also consider the way you prepare the seafood. Avoid butter and cream sauces. Instead, use spices and herbs liberally and serve the seafood with lots of colorful vegetables, either included in the preparation of the seafood or separately.”

Comments (2)

For those of us who are unable to eat fish/seafood, what is your suggestion as a replacement/supplement? Thanks.

Posted by: Healthier | April 10, 2018 4:01 PM    Report this comment

My optometrist recommends fish oil supplements for my eye health, as I am at a somewhat higher risk for macular degeneration. What does the research say about that? Thank you.

Posted by: mjf | April 11, 2018 9:12 AM    Report this comment

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