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High intakes of omega-3 fatty acids may decrease heart disease risk

March 24, 2014

A new Japanese study claims that regular adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids may help to prevent artery calcification and the development of heart disease.

The prospective cohort study documented the intakes of omega-3 fatty acids from fish as well as multiple lifestyle factors that affect cardiovascular health of 175 Japanese men and 113 white US men, aged between 40 and 49 years, and compared the number of cases diagnosed with coronary artery calcification, diabetes and high blood pressure after five years (1). The study results showed that, after accounting for risk factors for heart disease (e.g., cigarette smoking and increased level of cholesterol in the blood), the US men had three times the incidence of coronary artery calcification as the Japanese men. In addition, the levels of marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids in the blood were more than 100% higher in the Japanese than in the white US men. The average dietary intake of fish by Japanese people living in Japan was nearly 100 grams each day, while the average intake of the white US participants was about 7 to 13 grams of fish a day, or about one serving a week.

The researchers added that the vast difference in heart disease and levels of marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids are not due to genetic factors, since the levels of coronary artery calcification in Japanese Americans are actually higher than that of the rest of the US population. The new findings indicate that the amount of marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids needed in order to impart substantial protection against heart disease may be higher than previously thought.

References

  1. Sekikawa A. et al. Long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and incidence rate of coronary artery calcification in Japanese men in Japan and white men in the USA: population based prospective cohort study. Heart. Published online March 2014.