Saturday, September 15, 2012

Stop Popping The Fish Oil Supplements...Study Says

In the late 80's many studies linked the Mediterranean diet to heart health.  Those who ate like the Greeks, lots of fresh fish and olive oil instead of red meat and other saturated fatty oils, seemed to have a lower incidence of death related to heart disease. Then study after study came out linking the omega 3 fatty acids (fa's) found in fatty fish (salmon, anchovies, sardines, mackeral, herring and albacore tuna) to lower triglyceride levels and improved heart health.

Enter the booming Fish Oil/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplement business. Approximately 1.1 billion dollars of fish oil supplements were sold in America last year and that figure is only going up.
A study that came out this week in the Journal Of The American Medical Association (JAMA) reviewed 20 past studies that included 70,000 patients to assess the role that Omega-3 Supplements play in cardiac outcome including death related to cardiac disease.  They reviewed these studies and came to the conclusion that Omega-3 supplements are not associated with a lower risk of mortality, cardiac death, risk of myocardial infarction or stroke.

So what to do now?? Does America stop taking its fish oil supplements?  YES, EAT MORE FISH!

 It is difficult to isolate a single nutrient and say, "This nutrient will prevent disease". Perhaps the benefits of improving heart health lies in eating the whole fish rather than just taking the supplement.

 It is possible that a concentrated dose of a supplement is metabolized differently in the body compared to the slow ingestion of the actual food.

Maybe if you are eating fish 2-3 times a week as recommended by health care experts you are eating less red meat and saturated fat, aka cheeseburgers, steak, etc. This, in and of itself, could be improving you overall heart health.

I am pretty sure it is a combination of many things. It is always better to eat the food rather than the supplement. I tell my students that it is very important to consider the whole package when looking at a food versus a supplement.

The question now becomes how to get more Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids into our diet? The most obvious choice is to eat more fish.

Canned salmon and tuna is one alternative to the more expensive fresh fish. Don't forget about a mini bagel with 2 TBSP of whipped cream cheese and a few slices of Salmon (Lox) which  is a great mini meal or snack.Choose salmon when eating sushi, or, try cooking up a meal for your family...... 

Try this easy recipe I got from my brother-in-law, Chef Theo Roe, Professor, Culinary Institute of America; American Bounty Restaurant:

* 4 x 5 0z Salmon, filet                                   
* 1 LB cherry tomatoes (Heirloom if possible)         
* 1 small Red Onion, Sliced thin                 
* 6 individual Basil, fresh                                  
* 3/4 cup Cucumber/sliced thin                   
* 1 TBSP Capers                                        
*Kosher Salt  to taste                             
*Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste    
*2 TBSP Sherry vinegar                      
*6 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)                      

Cut tomatoes in ½  and put into mixing bowl, add sliced onions, sliced cucumbers, generous pinch of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper let sit – set aside

Heat a large saut̩ pan to moderate/high heat Рadd 2 TBSP of EVOO and the pan should be slightly smoking, large enough to hold the four pieces of salmon without overcrowding.

Season both sides of the Salmon Portions with Salt & Pepper

Carefully add the Salmon Filets to the hot sauté pan

Allow the salmon to sear so they don’t stick for about a minute and then turn the pan down to moderate heat and allow the filets to continue to cook for an additional 4 minutes

Carefully turn the filets over and sear the other side for 1 minute on high heat

Turn the pan off and carefully place the salmon filets on a paper towel to absorb the residual cooking fat

Add the remaining EVOO & Vinegar to the tomato mixture and with your hands tear the basil leaves.  Add them to the tomatoes and toss gently

Spoon a portion of the tomato salad onto 4 plates reserving some of the vinaigrette

Place the Salmon filets over the salad

mix the capers with the reserved vinaigrette and place on top of Salmon

Serve Immediately 

One more simple recipe where you throw everything into some foil and cook

* 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
* 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 8 lemon slices (about 2 lemons)
* 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
* 1/2 cup Marsala wine (or white wine)
* 4 teaspoons capers
* 4 pieces of aluminum foil

Brush top and bottom of salmon fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place each piece of seasoned salmon on a piece of foil large enough to fold over and seal. Top the each piece of salmon with 2 lemon slices, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of wine, and 1 teaspoon of capers. Wrap up salmon tightly in the foil packets.

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Place the foil packets on the hot grill and cook for 10 minutes for a 1-inch thick piece of salmon. Serve in the foil packets. 



  1. Love the recipes; keep blogging!

    1. Good sharing, Among Asians, consuming this fish name “Channidae Channa Striatus” is believed to provide one with good health. Through the study, science team learnt that the fish is rich in amino and fatty acids and provides medicinal healing for wounds and inflammation. Further research by the team led to the making of Chantiva, a natural remedy that aids in the healing of wounds, as well as the alleviation of muscular and joint pain, read more at:

  2. Just goes to show man can imitate nature by manufacturing fish oil supplements, but there is no substitute for the real thing - eat more fish! LC

    1. and actually, Lynn, in this case we aren't even sure he's imitating are never 100% sure of what you are really getting with a supplement.

    2. That is a very good point, indeed. Is there one brand of supplements that are more trustworthy than others? When we are buying supplements, how can we gauge its quality?

    3. Lynn, there is an independent lab with a website that analyzes all the supplements on the market, Unfortunately they charge a one time $15 fee to look up as much as you would like. Here is a link to a recent Consumer Report on Vitamins

      There is not much federal regulation for supplements. The manufacturers are responsible for making sure their supplements are safe before they go on the shelves....hmmmmm...only after adverse events are reported to the FDA do they get involved. Here is a link to FDA website with a fact sheet on supplements. GOOD LUCK!

  3. I'm really happy I read this article because I've been taking fish oil pills for the last 6 months because I thought it was helping my cardiovascular sytem.... guess I got fooled by the supplement companies once again! Jorge Madan

    1. If you eat your fatty fish meals twice a week, you should be good to go.

  4. There is so much that your body can take from supplements. I stopped taking multivitamins as well as cod liver oil and began eating wholesome produce (lots of it) and fish as they may provide more than the vitamins and minerals from pills alone. A well-balanced diet is what we need and we may even enjoy it more as we get older. I would pick a healthy and nutritious plate of food over pills any day. Nutrition 101 - (11:00am - 1:50pm) - D.Tsang

    1. Good for you! Much healthier way to go :)

  5. “Then study after study came out linking the omega 3 fatty acids (fa's) found in fatty fish (salmon, anchovies, sardines, mackeral, herring and albacore tuna) to lower triglyceride levels and improved heart health.” - Various studies through the years have proven the health benefits of fish oils. At the same time, most dietitians have been suggesting it's natural intake – getting directly from the source. However, if you really need to boost your omega 3 fatty acids, it's best to take supplements that are recommended by your physician. :)

    Tiffany @

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