Topic of the Month
Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular health
1 May 2012
Observational studies and randomized controlled trials have examined the cardiovascular effects of fatty fish consumption and long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) from dietary supplements. Several clinical trials have documented significant benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), for cardiovascular health. Although much has been learned, some questions remain unanswered, including: what are the precise physiological effects and molecular mechanisms that account for the observed benefits for cardiovascular health; and what are the magnitudes and dose-responses of effects on specific diseases and the potential differences in various populations? National and international guidelines now give consistent recommendations for the general population: to consume at least 250 mg/day of long-chain n-3 PUFA or at least two servings of oily fish per week (1, 2).