You already know that the omega-3 fats found in fish (DHA and EPA) are good for your heart-but how much do you need to see a benefit? A new review of eight previous studies says a daily intake of 250 mg of omega-3s seems to be the threshold. In people initially free of known coronary heart disease, that level was associated with a 35% lower risk of sudden cardiac death and 17% fewer fatal coronary events. Although there is no official US Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for DHA/EPA, the 250 mg level echoes a 2009 recommendation from the European Food Safety Authority. The new US dietary guidelines recommend eating 8-12 ounces of seafood weekly, which provide an average consumption of 250 mg per day of EPA and DHA. Researchers emphasized that in their analysis, 250 mg daily should be considered a minimum, not an optimum, level of consumption.
Meanwhile, consumers seem to be getting the message: According to the Packaged Facts market-research firm, omega-3s ranked behind only fiber and calcium in a recent survey of what consumers say they look for when trying to eat more healthily. The firm says US retail sales of products making omega-3 package claims (including the plant-based omega-3 ALA) increased 11% last year to almost $4 billion. That total is expected to approach $7 billion by 2015.
TO LEARN MORE: British Journal of Nutrition, online before print, dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007114511001644.