~ Fish Oil Raises HDL


Further Cardiovascular Benefits Found for Omega-3 Fatty Acids

In a report that will appear in the August 2002 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers have revealed yet another cardiovascular benefit for omega-3 fatty acids: that of improving arterial elasticity. The study enrolled 38 men and women with dyslipidemia, which is the unfavorable alteration of blood lipids that occurs in many individuals with age, characterized by an elevation in serum cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and decreased levels of HDL cholesterol.

Participants were between the ages of forty and sixty-nine and were free of metabolic disorders such as diabetes. After being instructed to avoid fish and vitamin supplements during the course of the study, the subjects were randomly assigned three grams of omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), or a placebo for seven weeks. Arterial functions and plasma lipids and fatty acids were measured at the trial's onset and conclusion.

The researchers found that systemic arterial compliance, which is a measure of the elasticity of the large artery, increased by 36% in the group receiving EFA and 27% in the DHA group, while the placebo group remained unchanged. Arterial stiffness can cause a rise in systolic hypertension as well as elevated pulse pressure, both which can increase the risk of cardiovascular events. Both groups receiving the omega-3 supplements also had lower triglycerides and a trend toward lowered systolic and pulse pressure.

The consumption of omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oil have already been demonstrated to raise HDL cholesterol, reduce abnormal platelet aggregation and lower the risk of sudden cardiac death. The newly discovered effect of EPA and DHA on improving arterial elasticity is yet another way that these fatty acids help prevent cardiovascular disease and events.

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