Consumer Reports: Omega-3

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If you have heart disease you should be getting one gram of omega-3 fatty acids every day, according to the American Heart Association. Omega-3s are the active ingredient in fish oil, but it's hard to get that much oil from simply eating fish. Far easier is taking fish oil capsules. Consumer Reports just tested these supplements to see if you're getting what the label promises.

The American Heart Association recommends that everyone eat fish at least twice a week to reduce the risk of heart disease.

The oil in fish contains omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show these fatty acids offer as much protection against heart disease as
cholesterol-lowering drugs. And you don't have to eat fish to get it — there are fish-oil capsules that offer the oil in concentrated form.

Consumer Reports tested 16
top-selling fish-oil pills which, like other supplements, aren't closely regulated by the FDA. The test results are reassuring.

"We found that all 16 brands that we tested had the amount of omega-3s that they said they did, which is good news. And we don't always find that with supplements."

Since fish can contain toxins, Consumer Reports also checked the supplements for purity.

"We tested for three kinds of toxins that often appear in fish — mercury, dioxin, and PCBs."

Testers didn't find significant levels of toxins in any of the pills tested, so you don't have to worry about contaminants.

But Consumer Reports found there is a big difference when it comes to price. Some brands cost ten times as much as others.

"Since they're all equally pure and have the right amount of omega-3s in it, there's no reason you can't buy the least expensive brand that you can find."

Consumer Reports says if you choose to get your fish oil from eating fish, be aware — not all kinds are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. And some fish can contain toxins that should be avoided by young children and women who are pregnant or nursing. Fish that are high in the heart-healthy oil and don't have dangerous levels of toxins include salmon, herring and trout.

View more Consumer Reports stories here.

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