Harvard Heart Letter

Omega-3 fatty acids: Does your diet deliver?

Most Americans don't get the recommended amount of these potentially heart-protecting fats.

Man eating salmon , a good source of heart-protecting omega-3 fatty acides

Recently, a Harvard Heart Letter subscriber emailed us a question about omega-3 fatty acids, the unique fats abundant in many types of fish that may be linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Is there a difference, he wondered, between farm-raised and wild-caught salmon in terms of omega-3 fatty acid content?

It's a reasonable question, especially considering that wild salmon is often far more expensive than the farm-raised variety. But how much omega-3 fatty acid do we really need in our diets? And are fish the only source? Here's a brief summary of what you should know about omega-3s.

Omega-3s and your heart

There are three main forms of these unsaturated fats, which play an essential role in human health (see "Three key omega-3s"). The so-called marine fatty acids, EPA and DHA, have several potential cardiovascular benefits. They might help

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