Nutrition Bites - Omega-3 fatty acids reduce risk of death from coronary heart disease

Omega-3 fatty acids have gained considerable interest in recent years due to their health promoting properties. Common food sources of omega-3 fats include oily fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), omega-3 fats found in fish, have been shown to lower triglycerides, reduce blood pressure, improve HDL cholesterol, and reduce inflammation.

A recent large-scale study in The Netherlands investigated the relationship between intakes of EPA+DHA and fish on coronary heart disease risk (1). More than 22,000 Dutch adults participated in the prospective study. At the beginning of the study, information about diet, lifestyle, and various cardiovascular disease risk factors were collected from participants. Over a period of 9-14 years, participants were monitored for incidence of fatal coronary heart disease and fatal and non-fatal heart attacks. Greater consumption of fish and of EPA+DHA were found to be associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease. In fact, individuals in the highest quartile of EPA+DHA intake had a 49% lower risk of death from heart disease than individuals in the lowest quartile.

The results from this study provide further evidence that regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish helps protect against heart disease.

Adapted from:
de Goede J, Geleijnse JM, Boer JMA, Kromhout D, Verschuren WMM. Marine (n-3) fatty acids, fish consumption, and the 10-year risk of fatal and nonfatal coronary heart disease in a large population of Dutch adults with low fish intake. J Nutr 2010;140:1023-8.