In a new study, researchers found that consuming omega 3 primarily through fish, but also in supplements containing these fatty acids, can reduce the risk of heart disease.
This is because omega 3 could modulate lipoproteins, the particles that transport lipids through the blood.
The research was conducted by a team from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV) and Harvard Medical School.
Up to now it had been shown that high consumption of omega 3 fatty acids was linked to lower levels of triglycerides in the blood.
However, it had also been related to an increase in LDL cholesterol, that is, low-density cholesterol transported by lipoproteins, also known as bad cholesterol.
LDL cholesterol increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases because it can accelerate the formation of atherosclerosis, that is, the process by which the arteries harden and lose their elasticity.
In the study, the team did the analysis of lipoprotein samples from 26,034 women.
They confirmed the link between the consumption of omega 3 and the reduction in the risk of suffering heart disease.
They found that increased consumption of LDL cholesterol from fish is linked to the cholesterol transported by the largest LDL particles, which are less atherogenic, and not with an increase in the total number of LDL particles.
This decrease in the number of triglycerides transported by any type of lipoprotein helps protect the individual from heart disease.
The study is particularly important because heart disease is the most prevalent cause of death, with 1 in 3 people dying from heart events.
The 3 types of omega 3 fatty acids studied, namely α-linoleic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are present in fish and other foods.
They are essential to human physiology, and the study has found that they differ in their association with the risk of heart disease.
It found that there was no increase in the smallest LDL lipoproteins that transport cholesterol; instead the increase was among the largest LDL lipoproteins, which are not associated with the risk of heart disease.
The study is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
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