Fish is not a health food

| 2 June 2006
minute reading time

In the last issue of Veggiehealth we explained why fish oils are not the best source of omega-3 fats. A major new study published in the British Medical Journal supports this view. The team, led by Dr Lee Hooper of the University of East Anglia, found little evidence that eating fish or taking fish oil capsules, cuts the risk of dying of heart disease, stroke or cancer. This review suggests that pollutants in fish (mercury, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls), may cancel out the beneficial effects of the ‘good’ omega-3 fats they contain. One study revealed that men advised to take fish oil capsules had a higher risk of dying from a heart attack. Fish is not a popular food; on average people in the UK eat a third of a portion of oily fish per week with seven out of ten people consuming none whatsoever. It’s time we turned our attention to good plant-based sources of omega-3 fats such as flax seed (linseed) oil, walnuts and green leafy vegetables.

Hooper L, Thompson RL, Harrison RA, Summerbell CD, Ness AR, Moore HJ, Worthington HV, Durrington PN, Higgins JP, Capps NE, Riemersma RA, Ebrahim SB and Davey Smith G. 2006. Risks and benefits of omega 3 fats for mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review. British Medical Journal. 332 (7544) 752-760.

About the author
Dr. Justine Butler
Justine joined Viva! in 2005 after graduating from Bristol University with a PhD in molecular biology. After working as a campaigner, then researcher and writer, she is now Viva!’s head of research and her work focuses on animals, the environment and health. Justine’s scientific training helps her research and write both in-depth scientific reports, such as White Lies and the Meat Report, as well as easy-to-read factsheets and myth-busting articles for consumer magazines and updates on the latest research. Justine also recently wrote the Vegan for the Planet guide for Viva!’s Vegan Now campaign.

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