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Special Reports February 2011 Issue

Are Fish-Oil Pills Right for You? The latest findings on fish-oil supplements may be tough to swallow.

A furry of new research on fsh-oil supplements is raising eyebrows as well as questions about just how “miraculous” those omega-3 fatty acids really are. “Live long, stay strong,” say the ads for fsh-oil pills, touting not only omega-3s’ familiar heart-health benefts but also mental and cellular protection. But recent clinical trials have reminded nutrition scientists that, after all, the strongest data linking omega-3s and reduced cardiovascular risk come from observational studies: Overall, people who eat more fsh have lower rates of heart disease. Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, points out, however, that people who eat more fsh also tend to be more physically active, less likely to smoke and to eat a healthier diet in general, including more fruits and vegetables and probably less meat and cheese. Should the fsh oils alone get the credit for healthier hearts—or are omega-3s only part of the story?

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