December 29, 2009
Weve all heard the amazing health benefits of omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs); they are good for the heart, mood, joints, eyes, etc. What is still being debated, however, is which omega-3 offers the most benefits. An article in Time said the omega-3s with the most health benefits are the two long chain fatty acids docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA), found in fish like salmon and mackerel. They say the omega-3s from plant sources like flax seeds, olive oil and some leafy greens provide benefits, but not as much as those from fish. They quote Dariush Mozaffarian, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at Harvard Medical School as saying, For plant-derived omega-3s, the suggestive evidence is unconvincing and more research needs to be done to make stronger claims."
The article also discusses the European Union debate on the difference is fish- or plant-sourced omega-3s. In 2007, the European Parliament passed a law allowing food products to contain health benefit claims of omega-3s without having to differentiate between the plant-derived and fish-derived kinds. The claims are under a trial period due to expire in January 2010, when the Parliament will review the statue. Some experts quoted in the article said they are worried companies have been using plant-derived omega-3s, but using health claims proven to come from fish-sourced fatty acids.
In the United States, FDA also does not require food manufactures to state where the omega-3 are sourced, but the big debate stateside has been with mercury and toxicity, says the article.
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