Higher consumption of Omega-3s (Fish Oil) delivers even greater heart health benefits

February 01, 2006

Including omega-3 fatty acids in our diets helps protect against cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. The findings of a study published in the January 17, 2006 issue of Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, show that consuming even more omega-3s leads to an even greater reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease.

Researchers in Japan followed 41,578 men and women aged 40 to 59 who did not have cardiovascular disease or cancer upon enrollment, from 1990-1992 to 2001. Food frequency questionnaires were analyzed for weekly omega-3 content consumption.

Over the follow-up period there were 196 nonfatal and 62 fatal coronary events. When the effect of omega-3 fatty acid intake on cardiovascular risk was analyzed, coronary heart disease risk was lowered by 42 percent among those whose intake was the highest at 2.1 grams per day or more compared to those whose intake was the lowest at 300 milligrams per day. There was a 65 percent reduction in the risk of heart attack among those whose intake was in the top fifth compared to those whose intake was lowest. Nonfatal coronary events were similarly reduced.

In their discussion of the protective mechanism of omega-3 fatty acids in atherosclerosis, the authors explain that they reduce platelet aggregation, as well as decrease the production of leukotrienes, which reduces the multiplication of endothelial cells. Therefore, the authors conclude that a high intake of omega-3s is correlated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease (myocardial infarction and nonfatal coronary heart disease) in contrast to a modest intake. An additional benefit of high consumption of omega-3s is possible prevention of coronary heart disease among middle-aged persons.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

Hopefully none of us will encounter an agent as destructive as mustard gas, but it is good for us to note that these particular antioxidants are very lung friendly and that available oral supplement levels have shown protective activity in research.

Mixture of Lutein, Lycopene and Beta-Carotene protects the DNA of postmenopausal women

Thirty-seven healthy, nonsmoking, postmenopausal women aged 50 to 70 were randomly assigned to supplement with a combination of Lutein/Lycopene/Beta-Carotene (4mg of each), a large dose of one of the carotenoids, or placebo daily for 56 days. At day 57 it was found that using the combination of carotenoids significantly decreased damage to the women's DNA. DNA is the gene material used to replicate normal healthy cells and damage to DNA is implicated in the production of damage seen in chronic diseases that accompany aging such as cancer or cardiovascular disease. The damage to DNA was not inhibited by placebo. The protection was seen as early as the 15th day of using the carotenoids. The research was performed at Tufts University and is published in the January 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.