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The health benefits of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: a review of the evidence

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Abstract:

Abstract

The UK dietary guidelines for cardiovascular disease acknowledge the importance of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) – a component of fish oils – in reducing heart disease risk. At the time, it was recommended that the average n-3 PUFA intake should be increased from 0.1 to 0.2  g day−1. However, since the publication of these guidelines, a plethora of evidence relating to the beneficial effects of n-3 PUFAs, in areas other than heart disease, has emerged. The majority of intervention studies, which found associations between various conditions and the intake of fish oils or their derivatives, used n-3 intakes well above the 0.2 g day−1 recommended by Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy (COMA). Furthermore, in 2004, the Food Standards Agency changed its advice on oil-rich fish creating a discrepancy between the levels of n-3 PUFA implied by the new advice and the 1994 COMA guideline. This review will examine published evidence from observational and intervention studies relating to the health effects of n-3 PUFAs, and discuss whether the current UK recommendation for long-chain n-3 PUFA needs to be revisited.

Keywords: brain function; docosahexaenoic acid; heart disease; inflammatory disease; oily fish; omega-3 fatty acids

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-277X.2004.00552.x

Affiliations: 1: Nutrition Communications, Cupar; 2: School of Biosciences, University of Westminster, London 3: Nu-Mega Ingredients Pty Ltd, Station Court, Haltwhistle, Northumberland, UK

Publication date: 2004-10-01

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