A new global survey of omega-3s in healthy adults has found the UK to be among the countries with the lowest levels. The UK was joined by the United States and other countries consuming a typical ‘Western’ diet to be at the bottom of the pile when it comes to blood levels of omega-3s [Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) & Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)]. This is seriously bad news for overall health and chronic disease risk, and yet another testament to the dangers of a ‘Western’ diet.
Unhealthy diets & low omega-3s = major cause of chronic disease
Chronic disease is a major cause of death for millions each year and unhealthy diets are considered to be a main contributor. Higher intakes of dietary omega-3 fats have been linked to a reduced risk of heart attack, sudden cardiac death and all-cause dementia to name just a few of the many benefits. For the countries with low intakes, this map is a call to action to prioritise increasing intakes immediately.
• Countries with high blood levels of EPA & DHA (Green) - Regions of high levels of EPA & DHA included countries on the Sea of Japan (Japan, South Korea, and some regions of Russia), Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway and Greenland) and regions with indigenous populations or populations not fully adapted to ‘Western’ diet patterns (Northern Russia, Alaska, Greenland, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Nigeria and the St. Helena Bay region of South Africa)
• Countries with moderate blood levels of EPA & DHA (yellow) – Northern Canada (Cree / Inuit populations), Chile, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Tunisia, Hong Kong, Mongolia and French Polynesia
• Countries with low blood levels of EPA & DHA (orange) – Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Scotland, Spain, the Netherlands, Israel, China, Russia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Tanzania
• Countries with very low blood levels of EPA & DHA (red) – UK, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Serbia, Turkey, USA, Canada, Iran, Bahrain, India and Kenya.
• Areas on the map shaded in grey had little to no data on blood levels of omega-3s so could not be included in the survey.
Stark, KD, Van Elswyk ME et al. Global survey of the omega 3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid in the blood stream of healthy adults. Progress in Lipid Research. Volume 63, July 2016, Pages 132-152