Purpose of review: The fish fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may promote cardiometabolic health. This review summarizes the results of recent meta-analyses of prospective studies on cardiovascular diseases, diabetes type 2 and markers of atherosclerosis and thrombosis.
Recent findings: The results of recently published meta-analyses of prospective cohort studies showed that eating fish once a week was associated with a 16% lower risk of fatal coronary heart disease (CHD) and a 14% lower risk of stroke incidence, but was not related to heart failure. Fish consumption may be associated with a higher risk of diabetes in Western countries and a lower risk in Asian countries. Recent meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials showed that EPA–DHA supplementation reduced the risk of fatal CHD and sudden death by 10% of which the latter was not significant. Extra EPA–DHA did not reduce the risk of heart failure, stroke and cardiac arrhythmias. ω-3 fatty acid (FA) supplementation did reduce markers of ventricular fibrillation, inflammation and endothelial dysfunction and platelet aggregation.
Summary: There is strong evidence for a protective effect of ω-3 FA on fatal CHD and for some markers of atherosclerosis and thrombosis. Consistent results were not obtained for other vascular diseases and diabetes. ω-3 FA reduced markers of ventricular fibrillation but did not reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation.