The AHA says there’s a lack of evidence that omega-3 fish oil supplements prevent heart diseases in the general population.
In fact, one research firm estimates that people in the U.S. spend about $1.4 billion annually for the stuff.
But are these health claims fishy? According to the American Heart Association (AHA), there’s probably no benefit for young, healthy guys taking the supplements. So you’re likely not doing your heart—or your wallet—any favors.
In a recent set of recommendations, the AHA says there’s a lack of evidence that omega-3 fish oil supplements prevent heart diseases in the general population.
Still, not everyone should shelve those supplements. People who have had a heart attack or are dealing with heart failure may get benefits from fish oil supplements, the AHA emphasizes. They base that claim on scientific findings over the past two decades that show associations between omega-3 fish oil supplements and heart health for those who heart-issue history.
For example, the association cites a large, randomized, clinical trial that showed a low dose of the supplements reduced death and hospitalization by 9 percent in patients with heart failure. Plus, fish oil has been shown to reduce high triglycerides and lower inflammation in those with heart disease.
But similar evidence is lacking for overall prevention of heart issues in people who haven’t yet experienced any issues. That means the AHA doesn’t recommend popping fish oil capsules to be heart healthy, because they’re not sure it actually works.
It’s important to note that this advisory pertains only to supplements, not to getting omega-3s through your diet, which has been shown to have real benefits.
A study published in the British Medical Journal found that fish are not only a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, but also vitamins D and B complex, as well as amino acids and essential minerals. And another study from Singapore found that people who get the most omega-3s from their diets are less likely to die from heart disease than those who take in the least. So, don’t ditch omega-3s altogether—but you might want to consider getting the fatty acids on your plate instead of a pill.