The objective of the present study was to determine whether the consumption of ≥ 250 v. < 250 mg of the long-chain n-3 fatty acids (n-3 LCFA) per d is associated with a reduction in the risk of fatal and non-fatal CHD in individuals with no prior history of CHD.

A comprehensive and systematic review of the published scientific literature resulted in the identification of eight prospective studies (seven cohorts and one nested case–control study) that met predefined inclusion criteria. Relative to the consumption of < 250 mg n-3 LCFA per d, the consumption of ≥ 250 mg/d was associated with a significant 35·1 % reduction in the risk of sudden cardiac death and a near-significant 16·6 % reduction in the risk of total fatal coronary events, while the risk of non-fatal myocardial infarction was not significantly reduced.

In several meta-analyses, which were based on US studies, risk of CHD death was found to be dose-dependently reduced by the n-3 LCFA, with further risk reductions observed with intakes in excess of 250 mg/d.

Prospective observational and intervention data from Japan, where intake of fish is very high, suggest that n-3 LCFA intakes of 900 to 1000 mg/d and greater may confer protection against non-fatal myocardial infarction.

Thus, the intake of 250 mg n-3 LCFA per d may, indeed, be a minimum target to be achieved by the general population for the promotion of cardiovascular health.