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Getting Your Omega-3's: Krill Oil vs. Fish Oil

Fish oil supplements

While many heart healthy oils exist on the market, one question that periodically pops up is whether to choose fish oil - made from fatty fish like salmon - or krill oil, which is made from shrimp-like crustaceans.

To better understand which one really works, we decided to ask Fran Burke, MS, RD, Clinical Dietitian of the Preventive Cardiovascular Program, for her thoughts.

At a basic level, both oils contain omega-3 fatty acids, also known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which have been shown to reduce heart disease. However, there is one large difference between the two: there is no scientific proof that shows krill oil prevents or reduces the risk of cardiovascular events, like heart attack and stroke.

On the other hand, there have been large studies done with fish oils, which suggest that consuming fish oils provide positive cardiovascular outcomes. One study, the GISSI Prevention Study, showed a 15% reduction in non-fatal heart attacks and strokes, and a 45% reduction in sudden death. The patients who took part in the study consumed 850 mg of EPA and DHA per day and were compared to a control group that didn’t receive an added supplement over a period of 3.5 years.

For this reason, the Preventive Cardiology team at Penn Medicine advises fish oil over krill oil in patients with heart disease or hypertriglyceridemia.

Questions about heart disease and nutrition? The Penn Medicine Preventive Cardiovascular Program has trained experts who focus solely on cardiovascular nutrition, the prevention of heart attack and strokes.

About this Blog

The Penn Heart and Vascular blog provides the latest information on heart disease prevention, nutrition and breakthroughs in cardiovascular care.


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