A lot has been said and written, about fresh fish and fish oil vitamins when it comes to a healthy heart and healthy eating.

However, the never-ending question is:

  1. What is better for my heart, fresh fish or fish oil vitamins?
  2. Can I replace fish with fish oil vitamins and obtain the same health benefits?

Well, here is the answer.

The American Heart Association and several other groups recommend Omega-3 oil, the main fat found in fresh fish, fish oil, and fish oil capsules, to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, there has been little research on whether the body processes fats from fish oil capsules and from fish in the same way.

The University of South Dakota study

To investigate the matter, Dr Harris, from the University of South Dakota and his team had a group of 11 women eat two servings of tuna or salmon each week, while another group of 12 women took the same amount of fish oil vitamins, an estimated 485 milligrams daily, in capsule form.

After 16 weeks, the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the red blood cells of women in both groups had risen by 40 per cent to 50 per cent, while omega-3s in the blood, had risen by 60 per cent to 80 per cent.

“We went into the project assuming that fish would be better, based on some previous literature from other studies”, Dr Harris indicated. Based on the current findings, he added, it doesn’t make any difference whether you get your omega 3 fatty acids from a concentrate in a capsule or in fish because they have the same effect as far as enriching the tissues with omega 3s.  Nevertheless, Dr Harris emphasized that he would encourage people to eat fish rather than relying on fish oil capsules. Fish contributes with not only Omega-3s but also with proteins, vitamins and minerals that the capsules don’t bring.

Benefits of fish oil for the Heart

  1. Improved heart rhythms. Uncontrolled heart rhythms are responsible for nearly half of all cardiac mortality. By affecting the electrical activity of the heart, Omega-3s from fish help maintain stable heart rhythms.
  2. Improved heart rate. Heart rate is the number of beats your heart pumps per minute at rest. Heart rate is lower in people who are physically fit and higher in the obese. Normal heart rate is between 60 and 80 beats per minute and usually increases with age. Consumption of marine omega-3s is associated with lowering heart rate, a condition that lowers the chance of heart attacks.
  3. Reduced blood clotting. Some blood clotting is essential for life, but an excessive tendency towards clotting increases the risk of blocked arteries. These can be fatal when a clot completely closes a blood vessel in the heart, lungs, or brain. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish or marine plants reduce platelet clumping, improve blood flow, and make red blood cells more flexible so they pass through small blood vessels more easily.
  4. Omega-3s do not pose a serious risk to blood clotting unless a person consumes very large amounts of them (roughly 10 grams a day) or is already taking blood thinners (anti-coagulants) and consuming large amounts of omega-3s
  5. Less inflammation.  Although we cannot notice it, low-level inflammation of the blood vessels is linked to heart disease and impaired blood vessel function. High levels of the protein CRP in the blood are linked to the inflammation observed in heart disease. Some studies have reported that consumption of omega-3s reduces CRP in people with heart disease. Omega-3s are well known for their anti-inflammatory properties.

Fish, whether fresh, frozen or canned, provides you with:

  1. Iron needed to prevent anaemia
  2. Phosphorus, needed for the brain
  3. Iodine for the thyroid
  4. Good quality protein.

The best Source of Omega-3s from Fish:

  1. Salmon
  2. Mackerel
  3. Tuna
  4. Sardines
  5. Trout

If you do not have a heart condition, 2 or 3 portions of fresh fish a week will contribute with the needed omega-3s, which is 2 grams a week.  If you already have a heart condition, you can add some fish oil vitamins to your diet. Do not exceed 1 gram a day of Omega-3s.

Final thoughts

Remember that although fish and fish oil vitamins can provide the same benefit as far as Omega-3 fats are concerned, eating fish will contribute to much more than just Omega-3s.

You can try these easy fish recipes to start your fish journey.


I am Andy Carpenter and I would start by saying that I have a Bachelor Degree in Nutrition Science conferred by California State University, Los Angeles and that I am certified as a Registered Dietitian.

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