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Omega-3 fatty acids may support cardiovascular health in younger women

February 22, 2012

A new Danish study indicates that little or no intake of fish or long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids may be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy, younger women.

To explore the association between intake of omega-3 fatty acids and the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), the consumption of fish and omega-3 fatty acids was assessed by a food-frequency questionnaire. Additionally, the event of hypertensive, cerebrovascular and ischemic heart disease were measured in 48,627 (average age of 29.9 years) initially healthy, younger women (1). The cohort study, which took place over the course of eight years, showed that low (less than 60 mg/day) or no omega-3 fatty acid intake via diet or supplementation was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers commented that a low intake of omega-3 fatty acids increased the risk of CVD, even in women with a low risk of CVD, which indicated the importance of the adequate intake of essential fatty acids throughout life. Evidence from observational prospective studies (2), as well as randomized, controlled trials (3) suggests a preventative effect of fish consumption and intake of the essential long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids against cardiovascular disease also in older women.

References

1. Strøm M. et al. Fish, n-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular diseases in women of reproductive age: a prospective study in a large national cohort. Hypertension. 2012; 59(1):36–43.

2. Daviglus M. L. et al. Fish consumption and the 30-year risk of fatal myocardial infarction. N Engl J Med. 1997; 336:1046 –1053.

3. Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell’Infarto miocardico. Dietary supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E after myocardial infarction: results of the GISSI-Prevenzione Trial. Lancet. 1999; 354:447– 455.