EPA/ DHA Essential Fatty Acids Demonstrate Powerful Cardio Protection

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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Researchers continue to explore the cardioprotective role of the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are typically found in fish oil. Several new studies highlight potent mechanisms of protection and healing directly associated with cardiovascular well-being. Any person interested in improved cardiovascular health should consume these vital fatty acids.

Over the past few years, EPA and DHA—especially DHA—have demonstrated a new mechanism as to how your body resolves inflammation and returns to a state of healthy function. It has been shown that these essential fatty acids release molecules as they are metabolized that guide your body’s natural ability to recover from any type of injury.

Scientists tested this mechanism in the context of recovery from cardiovascular surgery. While procedures like angioplasty, stenting, and bypass surgery can be life saving, they also induce vascular injury that, if not fully repaired, results in ongoing inflammation, scar tissue build up, and further problems down the line. The researchers found they could significantly improve the cardiovascular healing process with EPA and DHA

“Our study suggests that biologically active, naturally occurring compounds derived from omega-3 PUFAs reduce inflammation and improve the healing of blood vessels after injury,” said Michael S. Conte, M.D., “They suggest a new opportunity to improve the long-term results of cardiovascular procedures such as bypass surgery and angioplasty by the therapeutic application of this class of agents or their dietary precursors.” 

Of course, minor stressors irritate the lining of the circulatory system on a daily basis, inducing micro injury that must be repaired. The same mechanism of protection applies. 

A second study looked into the ability of EPA and DHA to reduce the effects of mental stress on cardiovascular function, testing 67 participants before and after fish oil consumption (1600 mg of EPA and 1100 mg of DHA per day). Excessive nerve output from stress is a well-known cardiovascular irritant. 

The study showed that fish oil did indeed blunt the effect of stressful nerves on the heart, preventing adverse disturbances to the heart rate. 

“Overall,” said the study authors, “the data support and extend the growing evidence that fish oil may have positive health benefits regarding neural cardiovascular control in humans and suggest important physiological interactions between fish oil and psychological stress that may contribute to disease etiology.”

These two studies support the ever-expanding documentation that essential fatty acids greatly benefit your heart and circulation, helping both to reduce cardiovascular wear and to heal injuries to the circulatory system.

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