Beyond the Mediterranean Diet: The Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in the Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease

Charles R. Harper, MD, Terry A. Jacobson, MD


Prev Cardiol. 2003;6(3) 

In This Article

Current US Consumption and Recommendations

The average US intake of n-3 fatty acids is about 1.6 g/day (about 0.7% of a 2200 kcal diet). The principal sources of n-3 PUFA in the US diet are vegetable oils and fish.[43] Vegetable oils (soybean and canola) are the primary source of ALA, while fish is the leading source of EPA and DHA. Recommending an optimal dietary intake is complicated by the fact that the rate at which ALA is elongated to EPA is determined by the intake of other dietary fats, notably the n-6 PUFA (LA) and trans fatty acids.[43] Although no official recommendations for n-3 PUFA intake have been made in the United States, an expert panel of nutrition scientists recently has suggested some guidelines ( Table VIII ).[43] The British Nutrition Foundation as well as several other international health organizations has made similar recommendations.[3] Based on these recommendations, ALA intake in the US would have to increase from currently 1.4 g/day to 2.2 g/day (a 57% increase) and EPA and DHA intake would need to be increased from 0.2 g/day to 0.65 g/day (a 400% increase) to comply with the above mentioned recommendations.


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