(Note: This week, Dr. Juan will be focusing on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, especially for your heart. Here’s part two of his three-part series)
The second part of this in-depth look at the monumental food cure, omega-3 fatty acids, takes aim at high blood pressure. Hypertension is one of society’s most prevalent health issues and any doctor’s advice would begin with maintaining healthy levels in order to protect yourself from serious disease. One good step is to introduce fatty fish to the diet.
Strong evidence says that if your blood pressure drops by five or six millimeters of mercury (mmHg), your risk of stroke drops by 40% and coronary heart disease (CHD) by 15% to 20%. How does fish oil’s blood-pressure-lowering effect compare with traditional drugs? In a meta-analysis published in 1993, which reviewed 31 placebo-controlled studies with a total of 1,356 individuals, the results show:
— There was no effect of fish oil on blood pressure of healthy individuals with normal blood pressure on 4.2 grams a day of fish oil — but there was a significant lowering effect in patients with high blood pressure on a daily intake of four grams of fish oil.
— Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were both responsible for blood-pressure-lowering effects.
— Average mean reduction in systolic (upper number) and diastolic (lower number) blood pressure by fish oil was 3.0 mmHg and 1.5 mmHg, respectively.
— There was a dose-response relationship seen; namely, the more fish oil ingested, the greater the drop in blood pressure.
— A fish oil dose less than or equal to 3.0 grams a day: 1.3-mmHg systolic and 0.7-mmHg diastolic drop.
— A fish oil dose of 3.3 to 7.0 grams a day: 2.9-mmHg systolic and 1.6-mmHg diastolic drop.
— A fish oil dose of 15 grams a day: 8.1-mmHg systolic and 5.8-mmHg diastolic drop.
In 2002, a meta-analysis of 90 randomized clinical studies in which 22 were of the highest quality, a daily intake of 3.7 grams of fish oil in those with normal blood pressure was linked with a reduction of systolic blood pressure by 2.1 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 1.6 mmHg. Greater blood pressure-lowering effects were seen in those older than 45 years old and in people with hypertension. Therefore, one can say that the blood pressure-lowering effects of fish oil in patients with hypertension are similar to that of drug treatment.
However, several smaller studies showed no such effects using daily fish oil dose between one gram and four grams on blood pressure in patients after heart attacks, as well as those who suffer high blood pressure.