What your doctor isn’t telling you about fish oil

If you’ve been following the conversation around fish oils, you’ve probably noticed their effectiveness is being attacked at an alarming rate.

And you know what? It’s not surprising. Conventional medicine loves to criticize nutritional supplements every chance it gets. And its favorite targets happen to be the ones that give pharmaceutical drugs a run for their money.

Needless to say, fish oil fits the bill. And judging by the results of this latest study, I don’t expect the heat to let up anytime soon…

EPA gets top billing for your heart

This new study looked at data on omega-3 fatty acid levels, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), in human adipose tissue to determine fish oil’s affects on ischemic stroke risk. Such tissue samples reflect up to three years of total fatty acid intake—not just a couple of months, which is the case when analyzing blood levels.

To be completely transparent, I’ll start by mentioning that neither dietary intake nor adipose tissue content of total omega-3 fatty acids had any influence on total incidence of ischemic stroke, according to this research.

Now, that may sound like bad news. But get this: When researchers looked specifically at EPA in adipose tissue, they discovered a 26 percent reduction in total ischemic stroke.

The study also found that higher intakes of total omega-3s lowered rates of atherosclerosis by 31 percent—while higher intakes of EPA and DHA lowered rates by 34 percent and 28 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, higher adipose concentrations of EPA lowered atherosclerosis rates by nearly 50 percent—while higher adipose concentrations of total omega-3s or DHA had no effect.

The bottom line: This study suggests that you simply get more cardiovascular protection from EPA than from DHA or total fish oil intake.

That’s an important distinction—and one I always discuss with my patients.

Always read the supplement facts

The most critical part of any fish oil supplement is the EPA and DHA component. Which is why you must look at the supplement facts label on the back of the bottle to understand exactly how much of these omega-3 fatty acids the formula will provide.

And just as DHA gets top billing for brain health, it appears as though EPA is the real heavy hitter for heart health. (Which may be one reason why some of these omega-3 studies have delivered surprisingly neutral results against heart disease—aside from pure bias, of course.)

These latest results are especially fascinating when you consider the findings of the recent REDUCE-IT trial. This study showed a strikingly similar 28 percent reduction in stroke risk with high-dose EPA supplementation. (It’s also yet another study your average doctor has probably never heard of—though I’m sure they could tell you all about the negative studies.)

Personally, I’m just happy to see fish oil’s individual components being investigated at all. This could be the start of something big.

In the meantime, though, it’s still safe to say that hefty doses of both EPA and DHA are important—which is why I recommend taking 3,000 mg of both daily.

And let’s just say my recommendation won’t be changing anytime soon.

So where can you get the absolute best sources of omega-3 fatty acids? Thankfully, I covered this in the May 2012 issue of my Logical Health Alternatives newsletter (“Fishing for the best source of omega-3s”). Subscribers can go to www.DrPescatore.com and log in to the Subscribers page with their user name and password.

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P.S. Fish oil isn’t the only tool you have to combat your stroke risk. In fact, my Ultimate Heart-Protection Protocol is an all-natural plan containing dozens of dietary, supplement and lifestyle recommendations to prevent and reverse America’s biggest killers—high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Click here to learn more about this revolutionary online learning tool.


“Fish Oil, Particularly EPA, Linked to Reduced Ischemic Stroke.” Medscape Medical News, January 17, 2019. (medscape.com/viewarticle/907950)