Omega-3 Fats Linked to Fewer Fatal Heart Attacks

Medically Reviewed

People with high levels of omega-3 fats in their bodies are less likely to have fatal heart attacks, according to a recent analysis. Unlike trials in which participants take omega-3 supplements, the participants in the current analysis got most of their omega-3 fats from food sources.

The analysis, published online in JAMA Internal Medicine in June 2016, encompassed data from 19 studies on more than 45,000 people. Levels of omega-3 fats from fish (EPA, DPA, DHA) and from plants (ALA) had been measured in the blood or tissue of all participants.

After half the participants had been followed for more than 10 years, the researchers found that higher circulating blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids were associated with a modest decrease (approximately 10 percent) in the risk of a fatal heart attack compared with lower levels. By contrast, no link was found between levels of omega-3 fats and nonfatal heart attacks.

Omega-3 fats have been shown to have a beneficial effect on such heart attack risk factors as triglycerides, blood pressure, and heart rate.

You can boost your levels of heart-healthy EPA, DPA, and DHA by eating fish at least twice a week, especially fatty fish like salmon, trout, anchovies, sardines, and herring, whereas ALA is found in plants, seeds, and nuts.

Read more about how to curb your risk of coronary heart disease