|Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor|
Among many other serious health issues, smoking cigarettes can cause heart problems. A recent study suggests that smokers can improve their endothelial cell functioning – and thereby reduce their risk of heart problems – by taking supplements of omega-3 essential acids.
Participants in the study included 20 healthy smokers. Over the course of 12 weeks, half of the group took a placebo while the other half took a 2g omega-3 supplement consisting of 0.92g EPA and 0.76 DHA.
Following the study period, all of the participants went through a four-week washout period before switching interventions.
Measurements of flow-mediated dilation and pulse wave velocity were taken before, during and 20 minutes after cigarette smoking. Flow-mediated dilation is a measure of blood flow and vascular health. Pulse wave velocity measures the stiffness of arteries.
At the conclusion of the study, the supplement group had notable improvements in flow mediated dilation and pulse wave velocity compared to the placebo group. The researchers also noted higher levels of the pro-inflammatory markers TNF-alpha and IL-6.
Researchers from the University of Athens Medical School conducted the study. It was published in the June, 2013 issue of the International Journal of Cardiology.
Omega-3s have been linked to a number of health benefits, including alleviating arthritis pain, better moods, improved joint mobility, helping with age related macular degeneration, and aiding your immune system.
Because omega-3 fatty-acids are not found naturally in the human body, it is especially important to make sure that they are a part of your daily diet. Oily, dark fish such as tuna and salmon are high in DHA and EPA omega-3s, while ALA omega-3 fatty-acids are plant derived and can be found in flaxseed oil, vegetable oil, and walnuts.