Why omega-3 fats could protect you from chronic inflammation

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In a new study, researchers found that the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA work differently against chronic inflammation.

The finding suggests each has its own important role to play in regulating the immune system.

The research was conducted by a team at Tufts University.

EPA and DHA, plentiful in fish and shellfish, have, in some studies, been linked to lower risk of heart disease and are believed to work by reducing inflammation.

In the study, the team compared the effects of the two omega-3s in a small group of older adults with obesity and chronic low-grade inflammation.

The participants were assigned to receive either EPA or DHA supplements twice a day.

The team showed that DHA had a stronger anti-inflammatory effect than EPA:

DHA lowered the genetic expression of four types of pro-inflammatory proteins, whereas EPA lowered only one type.

DHA lowered white blood cell secretion of three types of pro-inflammatory proteins, whereas EPA lowered only one type.

DHA also reduced levels of an anti-inflammatory protein, whereas EPA did not.

However, EPA improved the balance between pro-and anti-inflammatory proteins:

After being metabolized, EPA produced by-products that were associated with immune function regulation and worked differently from those derived from DHA.

The team says these results suggest that DHA is the more powerful of the two on markers of inflammation in the body.

But in our bodies, there is always a balance between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory proteins, and the results found EPA was better than DHA at enhancing that balance.

For the prevention of heart disease, the balance is very important, and EPA is important in this process.

According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults should consume at least two servings of seafood (4 ounces per serving) weekly. Salmon, cod, sardines, trout, and light, canned tuna are good sources of EPA and DHA.

One author of the study is Stefania Lamon-Fava, a scientist on the Cardiovascular Nutrition Team.

The study is published in Atherosclerosis.

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