Does your yogurt smell fishy? It could be the latest food to proclaim itself “heart healthy” with the addition of omega-3 fatty acid supplements.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and American Heart Association agree that these essential nutrients can be beneficial in the fight against heart disease. The problem is that they often come from foods that are common allergens: fish (oily, coldwater fish such as salmon, tuna and trout as well as shellfish) and nuts (walnuts).
The National Institutes of Health warns that people with allergy or hypersensitivity to fish should avoid fish oil or omega-3 fatty acid products derived from fish and those allergic or hypersensitive to nuts should avoid alpha linolenic acid (ALA) or omega-3 fatty acid products derived from nuts.
Do you have to avoid all omega-3 products? No. But you do have to read the labels. Carefully. On our scouting trip to the grocery store, we found a baby yogurt that didn’t have a “Contains Fish” warning on the label; we had to read the fine print. Many other omega-3 products are made from flaxseed or algae (DHA Algal oil), which should be safe for everyone in the family.
For more information on fish allergy, fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids, check these Web sites:
- National Institutes of Health Medline Plus “Herbs and Supplements” guide: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-fishoil.html
- Food Allergy Initiative: www.foodallergyinitiative.com (click on “Food Allergy Information” and “fish”)
- American Heart Association: www.americanheart.org (search on omega-3)
First published: The MA Report, July 2008
Reviewed: April 2009, Laurie Ross