Do Americans Have the Facts About Omega-3s?
New research indicates education is needed; 77% of adults are unaware low omega-3 levels can be harmful to health
According to recent research by the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED), more than a third of American adults have had a heart health scare, yet many have not made changes to their diets to better support their hearts. Today, GOED released research demonstrating a need for further education about the importance of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids for heart health. Key findings include:
- Following a heart health scare, more than half of survey respondents (66%) did not start taking heart-healthy nutritional supplements, like omega-3s, and nearly half (46%) did not change their diets.
- Seventy-seven percent (77%) of respondents didn't know that low omega-3 levels can be harmful to health.
- Forty-four percent (44%) of respondents were unaware that omega-3 intake can help lower blood pressure.
- Ninety-two percent (92%) of respondents were unable to accurately identify good sources of omega-3s.
"Most people don't have the important information they need about omega-3s as it relates to heart, brain and eye health, as evidenced by this survey," said Adam Ismail, executive director of GOED. "This underscores the strong need for clear communication and education about the health benefits, nutritional value and sources of omega-3s."
Experts believe, based on numerous gold-standard research studies, that Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3s support heart, brain and eye health. Evidence consistently shows that EPA and DHA omega-3s can:
- Maintain healthy blood pressure, support healthy triglyceride levels and manage risk of heart disease. The totality of evidence suggests a positive correlation between increased omega-3 intake and heart health benefits.
- Positively impact brain function and cognitive development. A diet deficient in DHA may deprive the nervous system of a critical nutrient and may impair the brain's ability to function optimally.
- Play a role in eye health and infant visual development.
"EPA and DHA omega-3s are nutrients we need, and the body does not produce them efficiently on its own; that's why it's critical to get these nutrients through diet," said Dr. Bill Harris, an internationally recognized expert on EPA and DHA omega-3s. "To maintain healthy omega-3 levels, I recommend everyone eat at least two servings per week of omega-3-rich seafood per week or take an omega-3 supplement."
Only some fish varieties are good sources of EPA and DHA omega-3s. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and certain types of tuna are the best sources. Unfortunately, 92 percent of survey respondents could not accurately name the types of fish that provide high levels of omega-3s.
Despite The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommending everyone eat two servings -- or 8 ounces -- of fatty fish per week, the average American eats just 3.5 ounces -- less than half of what they need. People who do not consume the recommended amounts of fatty fish mentioned above should consider taking an omega-3 supplement, or enhancing their diet with products fortified with EPA and DHA omega-3s, including milk, eggs and bread.