Omegas really do reduce cardiac risk

Amid controversy, results of a 10-year, multi-ethnic study suggests omega-3s significantly reduce cardiac risk.

The unchained controversy continues – and the melody goes up and down. A study published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine questioned the protective powers of long-chain omega-3 PUFAs (n-3 LC-PUFAs), mainly EPA and DHA, found in fish and fish oil, krill and algal supps. Now, a new multi-ethnic study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, suggests that omega-3s not only reduce cardiac threats, but they do so significantly.

Editors of the PUFA Newsletter: Research Summaries for Health Professionals about Healthy Fats review the new study in the latest issue.

To learn everything you need to know about the omega-3 market - from sourcing to new product launches to marketing expertise and more - check out the Nutrition Business Journal report on omega-3s, hot off the presses this month.

The study analyzed data from 2,372 U.S. participants, average age of 62, collected over ten years. The subjects were free of clinical cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study. Most notably, they were also of multiple ethnicities, including Caucasian, African American, Hispanic and Chinese American, rather than the homogenous racial heritage of previous studies.

The investigators assessed participants’ health every two years and obtained fasting blood for plasma phospholipid fatty acid analysis at baseline. They also examined dietary intake using a food frequency questionnaire.

What they found suggests that the fatty acids made a powerful difference: higher levels of DHA and EPA were associated with a risk reductions of 51 percent or more.

“This study extends the observations on the protective effects of higher blood levels of n-3 LC-PUFAs on cardiovascular and coronary heart disease events to span diverse race and ethnic groups with relatively low intakes of seafood and n-3 LC-PUFA,” write the PUFA Newsletter editors, who note it also confirms the weak associations with alpha-linolenic acid and heart disease mortality and, interestingly, reported no risk reduction with circulating or dietary intakes of linoleic acid. “Thus,” they write, “continued controversy is assured.”

NBJ recently talked to Adam Ismail, executive director of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED) about his organization's strategy on handling the continuous research – and the headlines it generates.

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