Omega 3 Alpha-linolenic acid is key to heart health

With 2017 rapidly approaching, many people are including in their New Year resolutions a commitment to eating healthier. As the hundreds of studies profiled in suggest, flaxseed is an obvious addition to a healthy diet. And as information on the role that omega-3 fatty acid consumption plays in reducing the risk of a heart attack continues to be published, the significance of flaxseed for disease prevention becomes more apparent.

In an extensive epidemiological study including data from around the world, an equivalent role of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA; 18:3n-3) and the long chain omega-3 fatty acids (LCn3PUFA) found in marine products, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the reduction of coronary heart disease was found.

The data is the first published on behalf of the Fatty Acids and Outcomes Research Consortium (FORCE), a collaboration of scientists who individually have conducted 19 different observational studies on omega 3 fats. The meta-analysis included data from 45,637 participants throughout 16 countries.

The data showed that individuals with the highest omega 3 fatty acids in the blood levels had about a 25% lower risk of dying from a heart attack compared to those with the lowest levels. And, across the diverse studies, findings were also consistent by age, sex, race, presence or absence of diabetes, and use of aspirin or cholesterol-lowering medications. Overall, omega 3s from both plant and seafood sources were associated with a 10% lower risk of a fatal cardiac event.

No link between fatty acid biomarkers and the risk of nonfatal heart attacks was reported, suggesting a more specific mechanism for benefits of omega-3s related to death. As many who study ALA know, the role of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for the primary prevention of coronary heart disease remains controversial. Most prior longitudinal studies evaluated self-reported consumption, rather than biomarkers. Thus this new data, using the results of studies of free-living populations, showed that biomarker concentrations of both seafood and plant-derived omega-3s are associated with a lower incidence of fatal coronary heart disease.

Read more in the “Cardiovascular Disease” section where you will find this paper and many others.


Del Gobbo LC, Imamura F, Aslibekyan S, et al.This content is copyright protected Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Coronary Heart Disease: Pooling Project of 19 Cohort Studies. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2016. 176(8):1155-66.