Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, recently wrote a column about a zombie idea, which he defines as “an idea that should have been killed by evidence, but refuses to die.” I would argue that we have zombie ideas in the omega-3 space as well. The most prevalent is the recent deluge of studies from cardiologists and doctors that purport to show omega-3s are not beneficial for cardiovascular disease. Perhaps EPA and DHA are maligned because of their association with the broader dietary supplement industry, which is not trusted by doctors or consumers, but that should not blind researchers from examining the evidence objectively.
GOED’s recently-commissioned meta analysis linking omega-3 intake to a reduction in blood pressure was very exciting for us and for our members. Lead author Dominik Alexander, principal epidemiologist at Exponent, said that it’s rare to see such a large body of research (70 studies) with such a consistent result. Additionally, the message that consuming omega-3s can help reduce blood pressure as much as other common lifestyle changes like reducing sodium or alcohol intake and increasing physical activity is an easy one for consumers to understand.
Back in 2010, I remember sitting at a conference listening to Dr. Jeffrey Anshel from the Ocular Nutrition Society talk about the benefits of omega-3s in eye health. The gist of the talk was that omega-3s are an important part of the eye, which is something most ophthalmologists have recognized for years. However, this position had been developed without any human clinical trials having been published to date. So why exactly is that?