12 January - 20 June 2016

Fish oil may help the heart beat mental stress

5 June 13

It is well known that fish oils rich in omega 3 fatty acids protect the heart from cardiovascular disease although the exact reasons for this still remain unclear.  A recent publication published in American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology by scientists at Michigan Technological University suggests the mechanism for this benefit may surround a reduction in the effect of mental stress on the heart.  In a study, 67 non hypertensive volunteers were assessed for cardiovascular function, which included heart rate, blood pressure, blood flow and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA), part of the "fight or flight" response.  These tests were performed while the volunteers were at rest and also while they were completing a time-pressured mental arithmetic test.  Members of the group were then given an 8-week daily supplement course of either 9 grams of fish oil or 9 grams of a placebo, olive oil.  When the tests were repeated after this period no difference was observed in cardiovascular function between the groups while at rest, however a significant difference was observed in both heart rate and MSNA when completing the arithmetic test, with the fish oil group exhibiting blunted responses. Guidelines suggest that people should eat at least two portions of omega-3 rich fish in a week and these results provide an important clue as to why omega 3 fatty acids have been shown beneficial.  Additional information surrounding the effect of longer term intake of fish oil or the benefit to specific groups of people, for example the elderly or people diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, are required. 

RSSL's Lipids Laboratory, part of the Investigative Analysis Team has expertise in all aspects of fat analysis and fatty acid profiling, including the determination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

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