It's got to be the right kind of fish, the oily species that have a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, Lavie added. "Redfish, trout, salmon," he said. "Salmon is my favorite."
Not much effort is needed for most people to achieve the recommended intake, Lavie said. "Five hundred milligrams a day is two fatty fish meals per week," he added.
But too many people eat non-oily fish such as catfish, Lavie noted. "And they have it fried, which reduces its health benefits," he added.
His review did turn up a few negative studies, including one showing no benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in people who had heart attacks. But it was a relatively small (4,000 people), short (one-year) trial, and the patients in the trial were already getting intensive drug therapy including clot-busting clopidogrel, cholesterol-lowering statins, beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, Lavie noted.
Set against that one trial are the many larger studies cited by Lavie, and epidemiological evidence showing that populations such as Asians and Alaskan Eskimos, whose diets are rich in fish oil, have a low incidence of cardiovascular disease.
The picture is not complete, the new report noted. Studies still must be done to determine the relative benefits of DHA and EPA, the long-chain fatty acids in the omega-3 family. And the American Heart Association says that Omega-3 supplements should be taken only after consulting with a doctor, because too much can cause excessive bleeding in some people.
Another study now in the recruiting stage will test omega-3 fatty acids to prevent not only cardiovascular disease but also cancer, said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.
She is a leader of the trial, which is now recruiting 10,000 men aged 60 and older and 10,000 women aged 65 and older. The researchers will test not only the effect of omega-3 fatty acids but als
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