Something fishy about omega-3 study

I smelled something fishy the moment I saw the headlines -- headlines like this one from the Associated Press:

"Study: Fish oil capsules don't help high-risk patients"

That flies in the face of everything I know about the essential omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. But I'm a man of science, even when the science challenges my own beliefs, so I began digging through the details of the study of fish and olive oil benefits in the New England Journal of Medicine to see if maybe -- just maybe -- I've been wrong about fish oil all these years.

Turns out I shouldn't have worried -- because this study is so flawed it's hard to believe it ever got published.

For starters, the "placebo" wasn't really a placebo.

It was olive oil -- and olive oil benefits are so widely recognized for helping the heart that Big Pharma won't use it as a placebo in its own studies because it'll make almost any drug look bad.

So it didn't matter whether the patients got the fish oil or the "placebo" -- because in either case, just 12 percent of the 12,500 high-risk heart patients had any kind of heart problem at all and just over 2 percent died from heart-related problems in the new five-year study.

But in high-risk patients, those numbers aren't a failure.

They're practically a miracle, and it only proves that both fish and olive oil benefits are good for the heart.

(In one study the olive-oil rich Mediterranean Diet beat the pants off the commonly recommended low-fat diet for heart health. In fact, the risk of major cardiovascular events plummeted by a third and stroke risk was slashed up to an astounding 46 percent. Get the full scoop here.)

I believe fish oil benefits are actually better for your heart than olive oil benefits, and the only reason this study didn't show it is because of another huge problem: Dose.

The patients in the study got just 1 gram of fish oil a day -- or nearly half the dosage used in many promising studies, and as little as a quarter of the dose used in many others.

In fact, the recommended daily dose of Lovaza, the FDA-approved "prescription fish oil," is 400 percent higher than what was used in the study.

So don't be fooled by the headlines on this one. Decades of rock-solid research on omega-3 fatty acids all point in the same direction: It's not just good for your heart… it's absolutely essential for it.

And that's true whether you already have heart problems such as heart disease, or are just hoping to avoid them.

The best dose for you will depend on your own risk factors, so ask your doctor how much you need and the best way to get it.