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Fish oil from algae protects cardiovascular system too

Maybe you don't like the idea of animals dying for you to feed yourself, or perhaps you'd prefer not to contribute to completely decimating the planet's fish population? Then you probably don't want to take supplements containing fish oil either, even though they have very interesting health effects. Fortunately there's an alternative.

Our cardiovascular system & DHA
The omega-3 fatty acid DHA is good for your heart and blood vessels. So many studies have shown this to be the case that the strict European food agency EFSA allows supplements manufacturers to claim 'maintenance of normal cardiac function' for products containing DHA. [EFSA Journal 2011;9(4):2078.] Anyone who doesn't eat fish a couple of times a week should really take a supplement containing omega-3 fatty acids.

The problem is that there aren't enough fish on the planet to provide us all with enough omega-3 fatty acids. [Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2015 Mar;18(2):147-54.] What's more, the number of people who prefer to eat foods that have not involved animals dying is on the increase.

Fish oil from algae protects cardiovascular system too
The solution to the problem is already available in the shops: omega-3 fatty acids derived from algae.

But do the omega-3 fatty acids in algae work as well as the omega-3 fatty acids from regular fish oil? Nutritionists at the University of Harvard answered this question by doing a meta-study.

The Harvardians confined themselves to studies on the effect of algae-derived DHA on the concentration of triglycerides in the blood. One of the reasons that fish oil protects blood vessels is that fish fatty acids keep the concentration of glycerides low. The lower the concentration of triglycerides, the lower the chance of atherosclerosis and, in the long term, heart attacks and strokes.

The administration of algae oil containing DHA resulted in lower triglyceride concentrations in the blood in all 11 studies. The figures below show the results of two studies in which algae-DHA resulted in dramatic reductions in triglyceride concentrations. In those studies the researchers used subjects who, before the administration began, had high levels of triglycerides in their blood.

Fish oil from algae protects cardiovascular system too

Fish oil from algae protects cardiovascular system too

All doses between 0.7 and 2.8 g algae-DHA had the same effect. So it's not necessary to take more than 0.7 g algae-derived DHA.

Algae-DHA supplementation had no clear net effect on cholesterol balance. HDL levels rose by a few percent, as did those of LDL.

"In conclusion, DHA supplementation from algal oil, a marine source of (n-3) fatty acids not extracted from fish, may reduce serum triglycerides and increase LDL-C and HDL-C in persons without coronary heart disease," the researchers summarised.

J Nutr. 2012 Jan;142(1):99-104.

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Cardiovascular Health
Fish Oil