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The Wonder and Confusion About Omega-3 Diet

Updated on October 2, 2012

It has been labeled as a wonder oil preventing anything from Alzheimer's, arthritis, depression, asthma, to heart disease. The vitamin companies are cashing in selling consumers supplements that may or may not actually do what is claimed. It all started way back in the 1970's when it was found eskimos, which consumed cold water fish (high in omega-3) rarely ever died with heart disease. Because of that study, about 25% of Americans buy the supplement, a sort of insurance, so they think.

The bad news. Last month the Journal of the AMA published an analysis of 20 clinical studies involving 70,000 people talking omega-3. It was found that it did not, by itself, prevent heart disease or attacks, strokes or deaths from heart disease. The New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that it did not prevent heart problems in Type 2 diabetes or those with such a history. Many state that the findings should be viewed with caution citing a variety of logical reasons. So, why did two renowned medical journals published the results? Well, because to balance those trials and studies that state the opposite. Like most medical studies, there are two sides of the story.

Still, the AMA does recommend adults eat fish twice a week. What kind? Specifically, salmon, sardines, tuna, shrimp, mackerel and herring. It is also recommended to eat walnuts, flaxseed, soybean, brussel sprouts, spinach or kale to obtain ALA, another key oil. But how much omega-3 is in a serving? A 4 oz serving contains anywhere from 1200 to 2400 mg of omega-3, while flax seeds contain 1700 mg per tablespoon. A cup of brussel sprouts has 280 mg a cup, a tablespoon of canola oil has 1300 mg, walnuts have 2300 mg per one-fourth cup, each egg has 35 mg. This is great info to know.

Omega-3 does help reduce macular degeneration, some depression, fetal development. The bottom line is that one should eat foods with omega-3 contents and eating excess amounts does not seem to hurt, but then, no one really knows.


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    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      Like everything else there are always a lot of different opinions. And once something is touted as good everyone gets on the bandwagon. Eat healthy and take select supplements for specifics is what we do. Thanks for writing this enlightening hub. Up and Share.