Heart disease kills over half a million Americans every year. To prevent a first heart attack, a lot of people take fish oil. But does it actually help? Not according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The 5-year study included more than 12,000 healthy patients with heart disease risk factors: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a tobacco habit, obesity, or a history of narrowed heart arteries.
Patients were split into two groups: one group received one-gram capsules of fish oil daily. The other group received placebo capsules with olive oil, which also has heart-healthy benefits.
Levels of blood fats and good cholesterol were better in the fish oil group. But taking the fish oil didn’t prevent heart attacks. So, for healthy patients – this study says taking fish oil won’t help.
The story is different for those who have had a heart attack already, or for those with heart failure. In these patients, fish oil is helpful. It can help stabilize heart rhythm.
One downside to fish oil capsules: a fishy, burpy aftertaste that bothers some people.
Fish oil has been shown to help with dry eyes, but when it comes to preventing heart attack, a fish oil pill can’t make up for a bad lifestyle.
If you’re smoking, stop. If you aren’t exercising, start. And talk to your doctor about other ways to protect your heart.