The recent publications of several reviews suggest that omega 3 oils
may help to reduce the levels of inflammatory markers that are known to increase the risk of heart disease and inflammatory conditions such as atherosclerosis.
Omega 3 for heart disease
A review published in Atherosclerosis Journal examined the link between omega 3’s and blood flow. The data was taken from 16 separate studies that measured blood vessel health using flow-mediated dilation. This test is used to predict a person’s risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease. In total, the studies included 901 participants who supplemented with Omega 3 from fish oil or walnut oil. Participants took between 500 to 5000mg of EPA, DHA and ALA for an average of 56 days. Data showed that:
Participants supplementing with omega 3s had significantly improved flow-mediated dilation, when compared to the placebo;
- Participants supplementing with omega 3 who had heart disease experienced greater benefits than people who were healthy;
- Higher intake of omega 3 had a greater effect on the health of blood vessels than lower intakes.
Researchers concluded that omega 3 supplements significantly improved blood flow for people at risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.
Omega 3 and inflammation
A separate review published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that omega 3 fish oils may help to reduce inflammation in people with acute and chronic inflammatory conditions. Researchers analysed data from 26 separate placebo-controlled trials. Ten of these trial monitored the effects of omega 3 on healthy adults, and 16 studied people with heart disease, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, sepsis, and acute pancreatitis. The durations of the studies ranged from two days to six months, and omega 3 dosage ranged from 120mg to 2000mg of EPA and DHA per day. Data showed that:
Omega 3 supplements helped to reduce inflammatory markers associated with heart disease, kidney disease, acute sepsis, and acute pancreatitis, when taken for 12 weeks or more.
- However, as the dosages ranged widely for these participants, researchers were not able to determine the exact dosage required for this beneficial effect.
- Plus, a lack of data regarding the effects on Alzheimer’s disease meant that no conclusion could be made.
- In healthy participants, omega 3’s did not appear to reduce inflammatory markers, except when taken after exercise. In this group, omega 3 supplements reduced the post-exercise spike in inflammatory chemicals.
Researchers concluded that supplementation with omega 3’s may help to reduce the level of inflammatory markers and so slow the progression of heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Qianqian Wang, eta l. (2012) ‘Effect of omega-3 fatty acids supplementation on endothelial function: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.’ Atherosclerosis (2012), doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2012.01.006
Rangel-Huerta OD, eta al. (2012) ‘Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids supplementation on inflammatory biomakers: a systematic review of randomised clinical trials.’ British Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2012 Jun;107 Suppl 2:S159-70. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512001559.