ALA evidently not as supportive of heart health as EPA and DHA.
I have previously posted about the essential omega-3 fats found in fish as well as plants for the diabetes diet and management of prediabetes metabolic syndrome. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at whether heart benefits can be achieved by both the plant-based omega-3 α-linolenic acid (ALA) and the marine, or fish oil-based, omega-3 long-chain EPA and DHA. The study suggests that high intakes of the long chain (20 and 22 carbon chain length) marine omega-3s (EPA and DHA) may reduce the risk of heart disease, but plant omega-3 (18 carbon chain length), did not appear to do so.
Data was analyzed from 3,277 healthy Danish women and men. After a median of 23 years of follow-up, 471 cases of cardiovascular disease (that the researchers characterize as ischemic heart disease) were documented. The data suggested that intakes of ALA did not significantly decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease among men or women. There was a trend for reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in men for increasing ALA intakes, but it was not statistically significant.
Other nutrition researchers have questioned ALA’s role in cardiovascular health. This does not mean that ALA does not play an important role in the diet. I find it interesting that ALA can be converted to EPA, but not EPA to ALA. Does this does grant the longer chain essential fatty acids some superiority? Some of the “high intakes” in this study were quite high. Strive for a good diet first. Nutrientology advocates a supplementation in moderation approach.
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