The New Miracle Foods
Products containing omega-3s
On the shelves: Odwalla Soymilk; Omega Farms Omega-3-fortified dairy
products (including milk, cheese, and yogurt); omega-3-fortified eggs; and many
other enhanced foods, from bread to mayonnaise.
Claims: Most of these products haven't gotten the FDA stamp of
approval, so manufacturers need to tread more carefully. You're likely to see
vague promises like "helps maintain a healthy heart" or "promotes
Evidence: Most or all of the omega-3s in these enhanced products is
in the plant form (called ALA), which is healthy — but doesn't have any proven
heart benefits. To get those benefits, you need the type of omega-3s that are
found in fatty fish (EPA/DHA). True, a few fortified products do contain
EPA/DHA, but they don't supply enough to make much difference.
Shopping advice: Go fishing. The American Heart Association
recommends that everyone eat at least two servings of fish (particularly a
fatty type like salmon or lake trout) weekly. A 3-ounce serving of salmon
averages 1,450 mg of EPA/DHA, compared to only 75 mg in an 8-ounce serving of
Omega Farms Milk.
Products containing antioxidants
On the shelves: Kashi Heart to Heart Cereal; Quaker Take Heart
Instant Oatmeal, and a large variety of other foods and beverages. Usually,
these are flagged contains antioxidants on the label.
Claims: Again, companies must be careful; you're likely to see
general promises of a healthier heart.
Evidence: Recently, a very large analysis from the Johns Hopkins
Medical Institutions, the National Institutes of Health, and other research
centers concluded that antioxidants do not in fact reduce the risk of heart
disease (though there are other good reasons to include them in your diet).
Shopping advice: If you're swapping an enriched bar or cereal for a
sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich, you'll be doing your heart a
favor, even if the antioxidants don't directly help.
— Additional reporting by Willow Jarosh, M.S., R.D.
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