Adding to what appears to be a growing trend of acknowledging nutritional health benefits, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently announced that it will allow a qualified health claim to appear on the packaging of foods containing the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), nutrients that have been shown effective in reducing heart disease risk and other conditions.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in both men and women in the United States. It is estimated that as many as 500,000 people die from heart disease and conditions related to heart disease each year. By allowing this qualified health claim to appear on foods with EPA and DHA, the FDA is hoping to encourage consumers to make better food and supplement choices.
EPA and DHA are long-chain, polyunsaturated, omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish, such as tuna, cod, sardines, anchovies, herring, mackerel, sablefish, bluefish, lake trout, and salmon. These fatty acids make up about 30% of the fats from fish. Eating foods rich in EPA and DHA, and supplementing with these fatty acids, appears to reduce the risk of heart disease. Fatty acids from fish oil can improve the health of the blood vessels, reduce clot formation, lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels, and prevent dangerous abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
In one study, people whose diets provided about 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day and who took a supplement providing an additional 1,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day reduced their risk of death from heart disease by 30 to 45%. The FDA has approved this qualified health claim because it has found the evidence supporting the link between EPA and DHA intake and reduced risk of heart disease to be credible.
Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor´s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice in Quechee, VT, and does extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.