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Dean Pomerleau

DHA/EPA and ALA for Cardiovascular Disease & All-Cause Mortality

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All,

 

As discussed in this thread, evidence suggests ALA may be beneficial for brain health in most people, while DHA/EPA may be a mixed blessing - only helpful for avoid Alzheimer's disease (but not other forms of dementia) in those with the APOE4 allele. And as discussed in this thread, fatty fish high in DHA/EPA may be detrimental for cardiovascular health if contaminated with PCBs, as was the case in several studies of Swedish fish eaters. 

 

But this new study [1] shared by Al Pater (thanks Al!) found in another population of fish eaters, this time from Spain, dietary DHA/EPA may in fact be beneficial for avoiding cardiovascular mortality. But dietary DHA/EPA was not significantly beneficial for all-cause mortality. For dietary Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) which is an omega-3 from plants (e.g. walnuts, olive oil, flax, chia seeds) the opposite was the case. Namely, dietary ALA reduced all-cause mortality, but not cardiovascular mortality risk. 

 

Putting the two together, people who met the dietary recommendations for both DHA/EPA and ALA had the lowest all-cause mortality risk - 37% lower than those who didn't meet either recommendation.

 

Perhaps the fish from Spain have less PCBs than Swedish fish (no - I don't mean the candy :-) ). The full text of the study did not address DHA/EPA supplements - DHA/EPA intake was assessed solely from dietary sources. So it is not clear if a similar beneficial effect could be achieved through a combination of ALA from plant sources and DHA/EPA supplements as fish oil or algae oil, both of which are less likely to be contaminated with mercury or PCBs than the flesh of whole fish.

 

--Dean

 

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[1] J Am Heart Assoc. 2016 Jan 26;5(1). pii: e002543. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.115.002543.

 

Dietary Alpha-Linolenic Acid, Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Mortality in a Population With High Fish Consumption: Findings From the PREvención con DIeta MEDiterránea (PREDIMED) Study.

 

Sala-Vila A, Guasch-Ferré M, Hu FB, et al.

http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/5/1/e002543.long
http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/5/1/e002543.full.pdf+html

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Epidemiological evidence suggests a cardioprotective role of Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-derived Omega-3 fatty acid. It is unclear whether ALA is beneficial in a background of high marine Omega-3 fatty acids (long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids) intake. In persons at high cardiovascular risk from Spain, a country in which fish consumption is customarily high, we investigated whether meeting the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids recommendation for dietary ALA (0.7% of total energy) at baseline was related to all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality. We also examined the effect of meeting the society's recommendation for long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (=/>500 mg/day).

METHODS AND RESULTS:

We longitudinally evaluated 7202 participants in the PREvención con DIeta MEDiterránea (PREDIMED) trial. Multivariable-adjusted Cox regression models were fitted to estimate hazard ratios. ALA intake correlated to walnut consumption (r=0.94). During a 5.9-y follow-up, 431 deaths occurred (104 cardiovascular disease, 55 coronary heart disease, 32 sudden cardiac death, 25 stroke). The hazard ratios for meeting ALA recommendation (n=1615, 22.4%) were 0.72 (95% CI 0.56-0.92) for all-cause mortality and 0.95 (95% CI 0.58-1.57) for fatal cardiovascular disease. The hazard ratios for meeting the recommendation for long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n=5452, 75.7%) were 0.84 (95% CI 0.67-1.05) for all-cause mortality, 0.61 (95% CI 0.39-0.96) for fatal cardiovascular disease, 0.54 (95% CI 0.29-0.99) for fatal coronary heart disease, and 0.49 (95% CI 0.22-1.01) for sudden cardiac death. The highest reduction in all-cause mortality occurred in participants meeting both recommendations (hazard ratio 0.63 [95% CI 0.45-0.87]).

CONCLUSIONS:

In participants without prior cardiovascular disease and high fish consumption, dietary ALA, supplied mainly by walnuts and olive oil, relates inversely to all-cause mortality, whereas protection from cardiac mortality is limited to fish-derived long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

KEYWORDS:

fatty acid; nutrition; sudden cardiac death

PMID: 26813890

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