Omega 3 benefits that may just surprise you...

The Good Life Letter 
12th September 2010

  • Who says omega-3 doesn't prevent heart
  • Discover how bad research conclusions can
    make the headlines
  • How you can help avoid heart disease and the REAL omega 3 health benefits

Breakfast the other morning was disturbed by a heavy thud
as my jaw hit the table.

Did you know that some crackpot researchers in the
Netherlands, of all places, have just published a paper
saying that omega-3 oils don't prevent heart disease and that the omega 3 health benefits we all thought were true actually aren't.

What?! How can this be?

For the past 40 or so years, every other medical and
scientific report extols the virtues of these compounds.
The American Heart Association even went as far as
saying that everyone should eat two meals per week
containing oily fish to prevent the growing incidence of
heart attacks.

Why then should this report be spoiling my breakfast?

I couldn't believe what I was reading, and had to re-read
it several times just to make sure.

As far as plot twists go, this was as shocking as that bit in
the film: "The Crying Game." You know, when the hero
discovers, just as they get into bed together, that the 'girl'
he has been obsessing about is in fact a bloke.

Anyway, it appears our Dutch friends had been looking to
see if omega-3 enriched diets could help prevent
cardiovascular problems re-occurring in patients who had
already suffered a heart attack.

Their study involved getting the group to take a spoonful
of omega-3 enriched margarine 4 times a day. Over the
next three years they found that there was no difference
in the study group compared to a control group.

Their conclusion states "those who boosted their omega-3
intake had the same risk of a second heart attack as those
who did not supplement their diet with added omega-3s".

This has to be wrong.  There had to be a flaw in their

The reasons why they got it wrong....

This really put the 'natural' cat among the 'medical'
pigeons, and sent me scurrying to my office to find out

I started to delve deeper into the researcher's methods
and the cracks began to appear.

The first one, and it's a crack about the size of the Grand
Canyon, is the fact that they used margarine enriched
with synthetic omega-3 oil in the study.

Hold on a minute chaps. Margarine isn't even a food - it's
a manufactured mush of fats and fatty acids, some of
which are harmful to health. These are exactly the type of
hydrogenated fats that are the major cause of heart
disease in the first place.

So, the intervention was actually INCREASING the risk of
problems because they were using margarine.

Second crack -  the source of the omega-3 wasn't a nice
bit of salmon or tuna, but a synthetic source. These are
well known to be of poorer quality than natural sources.
Both the British and American Heart Associations advocate 
their use "only when it is not physically possible to
consume the prescribed amount of naturally occurring
omega-3 in diet."

Finally, we need to look at the 4,800 people in the trial.

These people had all suffered one heart attack - and were
being medicated appropriately. What this means is that
they are all taking drugs to lower cholesterol, reduce
blood pressure and regulate heart rhythms.

If you then apply the effects of omega-3 onto their regime
it would be the equivalent of closing the stable door after
the horse had bolted. Any effects would be masked by
these major drugs. And while there would be a benefit, it
could take many years to be seen.

The study looked at the population over a three year
period, and it's arguable that this is too short to see the
benefits given the highly medicated state of those taking

As a result of debunking this research, my faith on
Omega-3's has been restored.  But I'm still concerned
about what might happen as a result. 

I'm worried about what the popular press will make of this
study, without considering its flawed methodology. The
European papers are already in a frenzy about this report,
banner headlines shouting that natural approaches to
health have been rubbished by scientists. Don't let
yourself be fooled if our own stalwarts of Fleet Street, or
wherever they are now, start to peddle this ridiculous

If they do, remember you read the truth here first.

Healthy diet, healthy heart

For many years both conventional and alternative
medicines agree on how beneficial omega-3 rich foods are
in the diet for everyone.

Current recommendations say that we should consume an
average of 400-500mg per day, with those who have
heart problems doubling this amount.

Getting enough omega-3 in your diet isn't hard, here are
some suggestions:

* Pepper crusted salmon. Mix cracked peppercorns
with garlic, dried herbs and a little olive oil. Coat a
salmon fillet and bake in the oven. Serve with a
green salad drizzled with a lemon juice and walnut
oil dressing - delicious!

* By adding a big handful of chopped walnut pieces
to your preferred chocolate brownie recipe you can
make a delicious dessert - and get the kids to eat
their omega-3's without noticing.

* If you make your own bread, try adding ground
linseed, walnuts, hemp oil and pumpkin seeds to
your wholemeal mix. Makes a fantastic loaf which
is an ideal accompaniment to cold water prawns or
crab cakes.

* One from the Collins kitchen - Smoked Mackerel
and Chilli Risotto. A real comfort food, with a little
chilli kick to give it spice. A great warming
favourite as an after match dinner when we have
been to the rugby.

Good, sensible eating doesn't have to be boring now does
it? The internet is packed with fantastic ideas for getting
more omega-3 in your diet - have fun and experiment.

Above all, beware of overhyped newspaper reports - I
should have known better this morning.

A bunch of misguided fools in Holland are responsible for
my porridge going cold. I'm thinking of boycotting their
beers in revenge...

They have been warned!




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