Fish consumption was once touted as the ultimate route to healthy heart and presence Omega-3 polyunsaturated oils in high quantities in fish oil was thought to be responsible for the beneficial effect of these oil sources. Two major claims made on behalf of Omega-3 oils were their supposed ability to prevent heart attacks and reducing triglyceride levels in blood. However a close and critical look at the data generated by many studies in the past now brings out the ground reality that for a normally healthy individual Omega-3 oil may not be that important though it does reduce circulating triglycerides to some extent. Here are further details of this study which is going to revolutionize the approach to diet designs in future.
"But several recent studies have raised questions about the benefits of fish oil, sparking no small amount of confusion. A report published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. clouded the picture further by concluding that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids did not lower the risk of heart attack, stroke or premature death. The study, by medical researchers at the University of Ioannina in Greece, did not involve a new clinical trial of the supplement. Instead, it reexamined the results of 20 previous studies dating back to 1989 that included nearly 70,000 patients. Among other observations, study authors said that early trials of omega-3 supplements and cardiovascular health "showed strong, significant effect." However, as more randomized studies were performed, "the effect became weaker and non significant." One of the reasons for this, according to the authors, is that an early and influential trial was conducted as an open-label study, in which patients and researchers knew when they were taking the supplement. That study involved mostly men who had suffered heart attacks, said Dr. Moses S. Elisaf of the University Hospital of Ioannina, the study's senior author. "This evidence," he said, "should not be generalized to any type of patients or apparently healthy individuals." Much of the recent controversy involving omega-3 has to do with conflicting recommendations. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has approved omega-3 use only as a triglyceride-lowering agent, whereas some European authorities recommend its use for patients who have suffered a heart attack or other cardiovascular problems. "Varying labeling indications [cause] confusion in everyday clinical practice," the study authors wrote. Dr. Robert Bonow, a Chicago cardiologist who was not involved in the study, said he tended to agree with the authors' conclusion that not everyone would be helped by taking omega-3 supplements. Bonow, a former president of the American Heart Assn., said there was no evidence omega-3 prevented heart attacks and said that for most people, any potential benefits of supplementation probably paled in comparison with exercising, maintaining a proper weight and addressing high cholesterol and high blood pressure. However, Bonow said it appeared the supplement was helpful to people with very weak hearts. One of the studies included in the JAMA analysis made a strong case that patients with chronic heart failure benefited from omega-3s. "There may be benefits here in stabilizing the rhythm of the heart," he said. Omega-3s are also effective in reducing triglycerides, fats that circulate in the blood and can be dangerous at high levels. "Triglycerides also respond to diet and exercise, but if they're very high we do recommend omega-3s for that effect," Bonow said".
It is more or less agreed that there is no substitute to a balanced and diverse diet and regular physical exercise for maintaining good health and all commercial products with many claims of heart protection cannot deliver the results promised for all people. Beneficial effects of Omega-3 oil to people with weak hearts and those having had previous attacks cannot be disputed.
Age old traditional life style involving eating regularly foods based on variety and fruits and vegetables in plenty while doing regular physical work is still considered ideal to keep the heart and the body in good shape. Those chasing junk foods based on refined carbohydrates, high saturated fats and high salt levels and following a sedentary life style cannot expect tolive long and healthy by taking short cuts like higher consumption of Omega-3 oils through their regular diet high in empty calories!