"We have a very good explanation already for why omega-3 fatty acids have a protective effect on heart disease," said Dr. Cam Patterson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill McAllister Heart Institute. "Omega-3 fatty acids have a potent positive impact on lipids that circulate in the blood stream and damage the heart. The effects of omega-3 fatty acids on lipids are still the best advertisement for their use to prevent heart disease."
Dr. Merle Myerson of Columbia University agreed.
"[The researchers] don't mention that omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides and non-HDL cholesterol, and stabilize cell membranes -- all of which may reduce risk for coronary artery disease and sudden cardiac death," Myerson said.
Regardless of the reasons for the benefit, the study's researchers said that the findings uphold recommendations for patients with heart disease.
"The results of our study underscore the recommendations of the American Heart Association, that patients with known coronary artery disease should be getting at least one gram a day of omega-3 fish oil," Farzaneh-Far said.
Kristina Fiore of MedPage Today contributed to this report.