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2014-03-28

Omega-3s Have Powerful Benefits on Blood Pressure

Before I get to the study, just wanted to quickly remind everyone that Earth Hour is tomorrow. Remember to turn off all lights and unplug non-essential appliances from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm tomorrow.

Now, here is a newer study published earlier in the month. I didn't cover it here since I wrongly assumed that mass media would have picked this up and made a big deal out of it...but what followed was media silence! That doesn't do much to counter the argument that mass media relies too heavily on Big Pharma's advertising dollars. So here I am, three weeks later, covering an amazing study that should have made headlines everywhere.


This new study was a meta-analysis--considered to be among the strongest and most robust type of scientific evidence--and it showed that consuming omega-3 supplements or omega-3-rich food may reduce blood pressure just as effectively as reducing sodium or alcohol, or increasing exercise! Obviously, it doesn't replace these other beneficial lifestyle/dietary changes, but sure is a heck-of-a-lot easier.

The researchers examined the effect on blood pressure from EPA and DHA from supplements, and omega-3-rich and omega-3-fortified foods. They only selected randomized clinical trials that exceeded three weeks in duration, of which 70 trials matched this inclusion criteria.

Data analysis revealed significant benefits for both people with high blood pressure (hypertension) and normal blood pressure, although the greatest benefits were seen for those with untreated hypertension. The reductions observed for the untreated hypertensive people were at least equal to the reductions seen by other lifestyle changes (e.g. dietary sodium reduction reduces systolic blood pressure by 2-8 mm Hg, physical activity by 4-9 mm Hg, and alcohol by 2-4 mm Hg).

For untreated hypertensive subjects, average reductions of systolic and diastolic blood pressure of 4.51 mmHg and 3.05 mmHg were seen, respectively. While this may not seem like such larger reductions, when measuring blood pressure, even small reductions can have a significant clinical impact (i.e. each 2 mm Hg reduction reduces stroke mortality by 6%, coronary heart disease mortality by 4% and total mortality by 3%).

"A decrease of 4.51 mm Hg in SBP among those with high blood pressure could help an individual
avoid having to take medication to control blood pressure levels,” the researchers said.

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Source: Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid and Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

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