Increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake to levels consumed by people living in Japan may protect against arterial calcification and heart disease according to new research.
Research published in Heart compared levels of coronary artery calcification in middle-aged Japanese men living in their home country with those of middle-aged men living in the US. Lower levels of coronary artery calcification, a predictor of heart disease, were found in the men living in Japan. This is thought to be due to the significantly higher consumption of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish.
Dr Akira Sekikawa’s team (University of Pittsburgh) tracked multiple factors relating to cardiovascular health for five years, in almost 300 men. Levels of marine-derived omega-3 fatty acid in the blood were more than 100% higher in the men living in Japan, and this is thought to be linked to the lower incidence of coronary artery calcification observed, which was 3 times higher in comparable subjects living in the US.
Sekikawa commented; “The vast difference in heart disease and levels of marine-derived omega-3 fatty acid are not due to genetic factors. When we look at Japanese Americans, we find that their levels of coronary artery calcification are actually higher than that of the rest of the US population.”
“Previous studies investigated substantially lower intake of omega-3 fatty acids than what people in Japan actually get through their diet. Our study seems to indicate that the level of marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids consumed must be higher than previously thought to impart substantial protection.”
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