Plant Power: Omega-6 oils increase heart benefit from fish oils

Combined fish (omega 3) and plant (omega 6) derived fatty acids are more effective for combating heart disease in women than fish oils alone, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (77, 1:37-42,2003). The study was carried out at the University of Guelph in Canada and showed an estimated 43% reduction in myocardial infarction (heart attack) risk over a 10-year period among women taking a mixture of 4g EPA and DHA fish oils with 2g GLA from plant oil. GLA-rich plants include evening primrose and borage.

Once women reach menopause, their risk of heart disease triples. In Europe, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of morbidity and accounts for more deaths in women than men: 55% of deaths in women and 43% of deaths in men, according to the British Heart Foundation. Yet, according to Dr Claire Packer, women are missing out when it comes to research into heart disease. She has called for more research.

“Traditional heart protective benefits of the female hormone estrogen are apparently being compromised by factors such as poor diet, obesity, diabetes and smoking and we need more research into how dietary supplements can reduce levels of risk in the female population.”

In the month-long study, 31 women were assigned to one of four groups: the control group took 4g of EPA/DHA fish oil alone daily and the other three received 4g of EPA/ DHA with varying quantities of GLA. At the end of the study, the group receiving 2g of GLA with EPA/DHA demonstrated the greatest overall reduction in heart attack risk factors with significantly reduced plasma triacylglycerol concentrations (-35%) and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol (-11.3%).

PR Newswire, Jan 21, 2003