Strong scientific evidence for omega-3 fatty acids to decrease arterial stiffness

July 13, 2011

According to a new meta-analysis from Australia, long-chain n-3 fatty acids significantly reduce arterial stiffness. That may account for some of its evident cardioprotective effects. The findings provide compelling evidence for supplementation with long-chain n-3 PUFA to increase arterial flexibility.

The first systematic review and meta-analysis conducted on this subject included ten randomized controlled trails with omega-3 fatty acids – eicosapentanioc acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) – investigating the benefits of n-3 fatty acids on arterial stiffness (1). A recent meta-analysis of 17 longitudinal studies confirmed aortic stiffness as a significant predictor of future cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality. Arterial stiffness is also related to brain and kidney end-organ damage. Reducing arterial stiffness may reduce related risks, particularly of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). The authors of the study aimed to assess the scientific evidence for n-3 PUFA in the treatment of arterial stiffness. They reviewed four trials that were exploring the chronic effects of long-chain n-3 PUFA on pulse wave velocity (PWV). Another six trials were reviewed as respective outcome measures; these used arterial compliance, measured as capacitive compliance or systemic arterial compliance.

The authors concluded that the meta-analysis provides compelling evidence that supplementation with mega-3 fatty acids offers a scientifically supported means of reducing arterial stiffness. They found that the n-3 PUFA were effective in independently improving both PWV and arterial compliance with small-to-moderate clinical effects. And they resume: “As increased arterial stiffness is a risk factor for CVD, n-3 supplementation may provide a means of reducing the risk of CVD and end-organ damage.”


  1. Pase M.P. et al. Do long-chain n-3 fatty acids reduce arterial stiffness? A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BJN 2011.