Eating oily fish linked to longer, healthier life - we find out more about omega-3 fatty acids

Regularly eating oily fish packed with essential fatty acids, has been linked to lower cases of heart problems and stroke

The health benefits of eating oily fish keep stacking up, with new research suggesting those who eat it regularly live longer.

Oily fish is packed with essential omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to lower the risk of death by stroke or heart disease by 27 per cent, as well as numerous other benefits.

The best way to get your omega-3 fatty acids is by eating oily fish ©Rex

But how much oily fish is enough and which fish count? And if you're vegetarian or don't like seafood, will supplements do the job?

The basics of omega-3s


The omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish oils are DHA, EPA and DPA. Each contributes to your health slightly differently.

In the new research, DHA is linked to a massive 40 per cent lower risk of heart disease, DPA lowers the risk of dying from stroke and EPA is liked to a reduction in your risk of non-fatal heart attacks.


The best way to ensure you're getting the best balance of omega-3s is through your diet. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), which advises the NHS, currently recommends we eat at least two portions of oily fish a week.

Oily fish are sardines, mackerel, fresh (not tinned) tuna, salmon, whitebait, trout, pichard, herring and anchovy. Vegetarian omega-3s are also provided in some seeds such as flax and rapeseed oil.

Due to pollutants found in oily fish, pregnant women and those breastfeeding are recommended not to eat more than their two portions a week.

Fish oil supplements are popular but there's no point taking them if you can't feel the benefits ©Rex

Omega-3 supplements

If you don't eat fish or are concerned about the pollutant levels, this is where supplements come in. There are mixed opinions in the medical world when it comes to taking fish oils in capsule form.

NICE does not specifically recommend supplementation in this case and some experts believe they are unnecessary. But other medical professionals swear by omega-3 supplements so it can be difficult to know who to believe.


It's really down to personal choice so keep a note of how you feel when you take the supplements.

Some people find they improve concentration and memory, while others take them to reduce inflammation that causes painful joints. If you notice no difference, you may not need the supplements.

When choosing your supplement, look for brands that contain DHA and EPA and that give you a breakdown of what's in the capsule or liquid on the label. You want supplements that are open about their source, which may mean you need to pay a little more for quality.