A team of scientists looked at the diets of 800,000 people across 15 countries in a comprehensive study that revealed no link between taking capsules and a cut in the risk of stroke. In total, they looked at 34,817 cerebrovascular (stroke and mini-stroke) events during the study.
Despite this, they wrote in the British Medical Journal that analysis of 38 previous studies did suggest that eating actual fish is associated with a reduced risk of an event occurring.
They found that people eating two to four servings of fish a week were six per cent less likely to suffer a stroke compared to people eating a smaller amount, while people eating five portions a week typically had a 12 per cent lower risk.
The team was led by Dr Rajiv Chowdhury at Cambridge University and Professor Oscar Franco at Erasmus MC Rotterdam, who wanted to find out what effect fish oil has on cerebrovascular disease.
According to the data, two additional servings of fish was enough to reduce the risk of these diseases by four per cent, varying levels of omega 3 fats in the blood and fish oil supplements appeared to have no significant impact on risk.
The team concluded that it is likely fish is so good for vascular health because of the wide range of nutrients, vitamins and amino acids that are found in fish.
Alternatively, they posited increased consumption of fish would lead to decreased levels of red meat and other foods in the diet that are linked to stroke risk.
Esciencenews.com reports that an accompanying editorial from authors at Wageningen University noted that it is while omega 3 fatty acids supplements are only likely to give small benefits to the risk of stroke or coronary heart disease, patients with additional risk factors such as diabetes could benefit more.