Even Small Doses of Fish Oil May Help Lower High Blood Pressure

According to a new study, even small amounts of fish oil may benefit people with high blood pressure. Published in the Journal of Nutrition, the study included 312 healthy participants in a randomized controlled trial. The research set out to determine the health benefits from the relatively low amounts of EPA and DHA (two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil) that might reasonably be consumed through diet. Specifically, the researchers measured the effects of EPA and DHA on systolic and diastolic blood pressure and other measures of vascular function. The study divided the participants into two groups. The first group received fish oil for 16 weeks—each participant was randomly assigned to take fish oil providing either 0.7 or 1.8 grams of EPA plus DHA daily for eight weeks, and then switched to the other dosage for another eight weeks. The second group received a placebo without fish oil for 16 weeks. Here is what researchers found by the end of the study:

  • Participants with high systolic blood pressure and normal diastolic blood pressure had a 5 mm HG reduction in systolic blood pressure, which might be enough to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Taking the amount of fish oil that provided 0.7 grams of EPA plus DHA daily was as effective as taking the amount that provided 1.8 grams.
  • There were no other changes in blood pressure or measures of vascular function among the participants.
These findings are important since most previous studies looking at the effects of fish oil on blood pressure have used dosages providing three grams or more of EPA plus DHA. Although more research is needed to confirm these results, this research suggests that the amount needed to see health benefits may be lower than previously thought, and can be obtained by taking a supplement or possibly by including a 3-ounce serving of salmon, herring, bluefin tuna, or Pacific oysters in your diet 3 to 5 times per week.

Source: Journal of Nutrition

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