Omega-3 fatty acids have been making headlines for their important role in many facets of health. Now, after hundreds of studies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a qualified heart-health claim for omega-3 fatty acids: The evidence that omega-3s display heart-health protection, the agency says, is "suggestive" but "not conclusive." This conservative statement was released just prior to publication of a finding from a study that followed almost 80,000 nurses over a 15-year period: Those eating a half-serving of fish daily, or ingesting 500 mg of omega-3 fats, showed greater protection against certain types of strokes versus women who took aspirin, an anticoagulant often recommended for stroke prevention.
Another recent study with eight men and women has shown that daily consumption of very low doses of omega-3s EPA/DHA (120 mg/180 mg; approximately equal to one standard fish oil capsule) led to decreases in fatty deposits in the blood by 19 percent and increases in HDL (good) cholesterol, also by 19 percent.
It is unclear whether EPA is superior to DHA. But one thing is obvious: You can expect to see more omega-3s, specifically EPA, popping up in unexpected places.
Exercise biochemist Anthony Almada, M.S. has collaborated on more than 45 university-based studies and is founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition.