Fish oils can stave off heart disease: Study

Last Updated: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 17:32

London: Just two or three portions of fish every week or taking an oil supplement can ward off heart disease, especially in women, a new study has claimed.

Researchers from the University of Reading found that fish oils can have a direct impact on the muscle cells that control the elasticity of blood vessels.

Previous studies have shown that the omega-3 fish oils can dramatically cut the risk of death by slashing blood fats, reducing the chance of a blood clot.

The study introduced small amounts of fish oils to meals containing saturated fat eaten by both men and women, the Daily Express reported.

Researchers found that muscle elasticity was improved four-fold in women and two-fold in men.

The fish oils were so effective on women they matched the benefits of L-arginine, an amino acid supplement taken for heart health.

Good health depends on elastic, flexible blood vessels to keep blood flowing efficiently from the heart and lungs to other parts of the body.

Saturated fat raises levels of bad cholesterol and reduces the elasticity of blood vessels which can lead to high blood pressure.

When blood vessels harden and clog, it becomes far more difficult for the heart to pump blood, triggering serious health problems.

Fish oil is known to increase the release of nitric oxide from the lining of the blood vessel wall which causes relaxation of the vessel and increases blood flow.

However, the researchers found that some of the relaxation effect on the blood vessel wall may be due to direct actions of the fish oil acting on muscle cells themselves, rather than on the cells lining the blood vessel wall.

"This is an exciting discovery which gives us a new way of looking at how our diet affects the health of our blood vessels, and possibly more effective ways of improving heart health in the future," Professor Christine Williams said.

"While our study found fish oils to be particularly beneficial for women they are also effective for men. Adding oily fish to your diet can help increase the elasticity of our blood vessels which is key to lowering blood pressure," Williams said.

The study was published in The Journal of Lipid Research.


First Published: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 17:32

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