Omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3s) found in seafood and fish oil are again linked to a range of health benefits in the June 2009 Fats of Life and PUFA Newsletter. New studies show that omega-3s may reduce the risk of heart attack survivors developing premature heartbeats and benefit healthy adults by reducing their level of inflammatory markers. Mothers consuming omega-3s during pregnancy may further benefit from these fatty acids by having less chance of developing depressive disorder or having low birthweight infants.
A groundbreaking study in people with higher intakes of omega-3s who had just experienced a heart attack showed they were less likely to develop premature heartbeats, which can lead to dangerous, uncontrolled heart rhythms. The reduction in premature beats occurred within the high-risk 30 days immediately after a heart attack. It is during this period that heart attack survivors are most likely to develop other heart problems.
"These findings, if confirmed in other studies of heart attack survivors, would expand the reasons for making omega-3 intake a regular part of heart attack care and prevention," said Joyce Nettleton, D.Sc., editor of Fats of Life and the PUFA Newsletter.
Healthy people may also benefit from omega-3 intake. Non-fried fish consumption was associated with lower levels of inflammatory substances in a recent study. Because it was based on adults' usual intakes of fish and omega-3s in the U.S., which has low fish consumption, the findings suggest that even small amounts of non-fried fish in the diet could benefit health.
Similarly, a report from India showed that small amounts of omega-3s can have big results. In India, where rates of low birthweight, preterm delivery and small-for-gestational age infants are high, mothers who consumed as little as 3 to 4g per day of fish in their third trimester had significantly less change of having low birthweight infants.
"Even small amounts of fish intake during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester, could make a positive difference to public health," Nettleton said.
Other newsletter articles note that fish consumption in the last trimester of pregnancy might also reduce the incidence of mothers having post-birth depression.
The quarterly Fats of Life and PUFA Newsletter, sponsored by DSM Nutritional Products, are accessible at www.fatsoflife.com.