Omega-3 Fats Improve Composition of Blood Even in Those in Normal Range.
Bruce Brightman - founder, LifeSource Vitamins
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) causes more deaths in Americans than any other disease (1), accounting for more than one-third (35.3%) of all U.S. deaths. CVD is expected to cost our healthcare system more than $475 billion in 2009 (2). Omega-3 fatty are perhaps the most recommended supplement to help maintain heart health. They are so important that the American Heart Association recommends 500 mg of omega-3 fats per day for those without diagnosed heart disease (3) and 1,000 mg per day for those with diagnosed heart disease (4).
Now a new study (5) has found even in patients with normal lipid levels, omega-3 fatty acids can help improve the quality and structure of those lipids. In the study, 74 men and women between the ages of 19 and 43 with normal lipid levels were given either 4.4 grams per day of Alpha Linoleic Acid (the plant form of omega-3), 2.2 grams per day of EPA (a fat from fish oil) or 2.3 grams per day of DHA (another fat from fish oil) for six weeks. The researchers took blood samples before and after the study to not only measure cholesterol levels, but also to examine the structure of the cholesterol with respect to omega-3 fat levels.
At the end of six weeks, patients in all three groups had "a significant enrichment" of omega-3 fatty acid content of their LDL cholesterol. Specifically, in the ALA group, EPA levels in the LDL cholesterol increased by 36% (no changes were seen in the DHA group). In the EPA group, DHA levels increased by 24%, while in the DHA group there was a 249% increase in EPA levels in the LDL cholesterol. While there were no significant changes in total and LDL cholesterol levels, there were "significant" decreases in levels of a lipid called triacylglycerol. In the EPA group, the decrease was 0.14 millimoles/Liter (a 15.1% decrease), in the DHA group, the decrease was 0.30 mmol/L (a 30.6% decrease), and in the ALA group, the decrease was 0.17 mmol/L (a 16.8% decrease). Finally, those in the DHA group saw a significant increase in HDL cholesterol (1.60 to 1.81 mmol/L - a 12% increase), with no changes seen in the EPA or ALA group.
For the researchers, "the present data support the hypothesis that isolated dietary ALA, EPA, and DHA intakes lead to differential enrichment in LDL due to interconversion" and that "Moderate amounts of ALA, EPA, and DHA are effective in improving lipid profiles patients with normal lipid levels."
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1. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP), 2002. Retrieved September 29, 2008 from the World Wide Web: http://www.cdc.gov/omhd/AMH/factsheets/cardio.htm
2. "Cardiovascular Disease at a Glance" posted on www.cdc.gov/NCCDPHP/publications/AAG/dhdsp.htm
3. P.M. Kris-Etherton, W.S. Harris, L.J. Appel and American Heart Association Nutrition Committee, Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease [published correction appears in Circulation 2003;107:512], Circulation 106 (2002), pp. 2747-2757
4. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Diseases. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2009; 54:585-594, doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2009.02.084
5. Egert S. Dietary a-Linolenic Acid, EPA, and DHA Have Differential Effects on LDL Fatty Acid Composition but Similar Effects on Serum Lipid Profiles in Normolipidemic Humans. J. Nutr 2009; 139: 861-868
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