Omega 3 Fatty Acids Do Absolutely Bugger All For Your Heart
IT’S a generally accepted bit of health woo that there are good animal fats and bad ones. The nice tasty kind, lard, beef dripping and so on are very bad for you: cause a heart attack as soon as you look at them. There’s also the good ones, like from fish, seal and whale blubber, known as Omega 3 fatty acids. These must be good for you because they taste like crap.
And thus we get thousands of people waxing rich on flogging us fish pills to protect our hearts.
There’s even some sciency bits behind this. For researchers did declare that Inuit (aka Eskimos to us less than PC types) had low levels of heart disease because they ate all that fish and whale blubber.
There is actually a slight problem with this. As a much more recent scientific paper points out:
During the 1970s, two Danish investigators, Bang and Dyerberg, upon being informed that the Greenland Eskimos had a low prevalence of coronary artery disease (CAD) set out to study the diet of this population. Bang and Dyerberg described the “Eskimo diet” as consisting of large amounts of seal and whale blubber (i.e. fats of animal origin) and suggested that this diet was a key factor in the alleged low incidence of CAD. This was the beginning of a proliferation of studies that focused on the cardioprotective effects of the “Eskimo diet”. In view of data, which accumulated on this topic during the past 40 years, we conducted a review of published literature to examine whether mortality and morbidity due to CAD are indeed lower in Eskimo/Inuit populations compared to their Caucasian counterparts. Most studies found that the Greenland Eskimos as well as the Canadian and Alaskan Inuit have CAD as often as the non-Eskimo populations. Notably, Bang and Dyerberg’s studies from the 1970sdid not investigate the prevalence of CAD in this population; however, their reports are still routinely cited as evidence for the cardioprotective effect of the “Eskimo diet”. We discuss the possible motives leading to the misinterpretation of these seminal studies.
The notion that coronary artery disease (CAD) is rare among Greenland Eskimos due to high fish intake, gained acceptance in the 1970s. Since then, thousands of reports on the cardioprotective effects of the “Eskimo diet” have been published. We conducted a literature review to assess whether there was sufficient evidence to support the “Eskimo diet and low CAD” hypothesis. Our conclusion is that this hypothesis lacked a solid foundation.
That really is something of a problem. For, to make it really simple, what they’re saying there is that they didn’t in fact go and have a look at whether Eskimos did or did not have more heart disease than everyone else. And when someone did bother to have a look then it was found out that they have the same amount.
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that life imitates art. Woody Allen:
Dr. Melik: This morning for breakfast he requested something called “wheat germ, organic honey and tiger’s milk.”
Dr. Aragon: [chuckling] Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties.
Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or… hot fudge?
Dr. Aragon: Those were thought to be unhealthy… precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.
Dr. Melik: Incredible.