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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 healthy circulation."

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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