Decades ago, there were first studies that suggested a positive effect of omega-3 fatty acids on the cardiovascular system, for example, to protect against heart attacks. A lot of these fats can be found in fish, whereupon capsules with fish oil were initially offered to provide those who rarely eat fish with sufficient omega-3. There are also animal-free alternatives, such as linseed oil or algae oil, which contain a similar concentration.
The Warenfest Foundation has now systematically examined dietary supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acids. 23 different preparations were tested for this. 14 of them contained fish oil, four algae oil, two linseed oil. Many of them can be found in almost every pharmacy or drugstore. In addition, three over-the-counter medications containing omega-3 fatty acids were approved that were approved to lower elevated triglycerides and thus the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
The chemical quality of the products was satisfactory and all essentially contained the composition of substances that was specified. The cost per unit of consumption (daily dose) ranged from 5 to 90 cents, whereby the drugs tested were sometimes significantly more expensive.
“There is no reason to take such funds”
In a second step, the experts from Stiftung Warentest then examined the study situation: Which effects of omega-3 fatty acids have been scientifically proven? In addition to medical studies, publications by professional societies, the European Food Safety Authority Efsa and the European drug agency Ema were also taken into account.
They came to a clear conclusion: The verified food supplements are superfluous to protect against cardiovascular diseases. The benefits are simply not sufficiently proven. According to the foundation, this applies to both healthy people and patients who have already had a heart attack. There was also insufficient evidence for other effects attributed to fats, such as the prevention of dementia or age-related eye diseases.
Omega-3 fatty acids are certainly valuable, but the daily requirement can be met without any problems by a normal diet and the regular consumption of fish such as salmon, or walnuts, linseed or rapeseed oil. “There is no reason to take such funds,” was the short and concise conclusion of Stiftung Warenfest in the June issue of the magazine.