Posted on Sun, 30 Mar 14
A large analysis of 70 clinical studies has demonstrated a powerful and important blood pressure lowering effect of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA that rivals medication.
High blood pressure is a problem that affects about one in three people and is strongly associated with increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
In the most comprehensive study to date, researchers examined possible blood pressure lowering effects of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from dietary supplements and fish.
The analysis included a total of 70 randomized controlled trials, and the sources of EPA of DHA used in the studies included different types of seafood, EPA and DHA–fortified foods, fish oil, algal oil, and purified ethyl esters
Compared to placebo, EPA and DHA reduced systolic blood pressure on average by −1.52mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by − 0.99mm Hg. Importantly, the strongest effects were in people with untreated high blood pressure where reductions in systolic blood pressure were − 4.51mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure were − 3.05mm Hg.
“The 4.51mm Hg decrease observed among hypertensive populations not taking antihypertensive medication could prevent an individual from requiring medication to control their hypertension or could help maintain an individual in a lower stage of progressive hypertension” commented the study investigators.
These results suggest that EPA and DHA are as effective as lifestyle changes and could be a safe alternative to medication for the treatment and prevention of high blood pressure.
The effective dose for lowering systolic blood pressure appeared to be 1-2 grams per day of EPA and DHA while only doses of 2-3 grams per day reduced diastolic blood pressure. About 4 meals of oily fish a week, 3-4 algal oil capsules or 2-3 fish oil capsules daily would provide 1 gram of EPA and DHA.
Miller PE, Van Elswyk M, Alexander DD. Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid and Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Am J Hypertens. 2014 Mar 6. [Epub ahead of print] - link to full-text