Fish-free Omega-3 sources reduce the risk of fatal heart disease by 20 percent

The plant-based version of omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), may benefit heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease, according to new research published in the medical journal. Advances in Nutrition. Previous research has linked omega-3s to a lower risk of heart disease, but this conclusion was based on omega-3s in fish and other seafood.

In a comprehensive review of the literature, the researchers found that consumption of ALA found in plant-based foods was associated with a 10% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 20% lower risk of fatal coronary heart disease. The researchers say their review suggests there are several ways to meet omega-3 fatty acid recommendations.

Omega-3s are essential fatty acids, which means your body cannot make them on its own and are made up of ALA, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). While ALA can be found in plant-based foods such as nuts, flax seeds, soybeans and canola oil, EPA and DHA are found in fish and other seafood. According to the National Institutes of Health, your body can convert some ALA into EPA and then DHA in small amounts.

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“People may not want to eat seafood for a variety of reasons, but it’s still important for them to consume omega-3s to reduce their risk of heart disease and promote overall health,” Penny Kris-Etherton, Professor of Nutrition at Evan Pugh University Sciences at Penn State, said in a statement. “Plant-based ALA in the form of nuts or flax seeds can also provide these benefits, especially when incorporated into a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.”

Plant sources of omega-3s for heart health

For the review, the researchers analyzed data from previous studies to evaluate the effects of ALA on heart disease and heart disease risk factors such as blood pressure and inflammation. The studies analyzed included both RCTs and observational studies. While some of the observational studies relied on participants reporting how often they ate certain foods to determine how much ALA they were consuming, others used biomarkers (a way to measure ALA levels in the blood) as the most accurate measure.

After analyzing the studies, the researchers found that ALA has beneficial effects on lowering lipids and atherogenic lipoproteins, such as total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as blood pressure and blood pressure. inflammation.

“When people with low omega-3 levels in their diets ate ALA, they saw a benefit in cardiovascular health,” Jennifer Fleming, assistant professor of nutrition at Penn State, said in a statement. “But when people with high levels of omega-3s from other sources ate more ALA, they also saw a benefit. It could be that ALA works synergistically with other omega-3s. “

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The researchers also found evidence to support current dietary guidelines that ALA should provide 0.6% to about 1% of total energy in one day, which is about 1.1 grams per day for women and 1.6 grams per day for men. These recommendations equate to about half an ounce of walnuts or just under a teaspoon of flaxseed oil.

The researchers said future studies are needed to help better understand the effects of ALA on other important chronic diseases. In addition, it is necessary to assess whether the recent scientific literature supports new higher dietary recommendations for ALA.

For more information on heart health, read:
5 heart health tips from plant-based medical professionals
Eating plants for dinner could reduce the risk of heart disease
Doctors urged to prescribe plant-based foods as medicine

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