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Algae-Derived Omega-3s Associated With Improved Heart Health

Researchers at Harvard have released a meta-analysis showing that omega-3 fatty-acids from algal oil - particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - may benefit heart health by improving cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

The study was published in the Journal of Nutrition on January 1, 2012.

Eleven randomized, controlled trials were included in the analysis. Participants in all of the trials had no history of coronary artery disease.

The researchers noted that individuals who consumed 1.7 grams a day of algal DHA had a 15% reduction in triglyceride levels, a 5% increase in HDL (or “good”) cholesterol levels and an 8% increase in LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels.

LDL is known commonly as bad cholesterol and any increase is usually considered detrimental. However, the researchers found that the particle size of the LDL cholesterol increased, which is good. That’s because small LDL particles are associated with atherogenic risk.

DHA is best known for its importance to fetal and infant brain and eye development. However, recent studies have also shown that it can help lower blood pressure, heart rate and platelet aggregration, as well as reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes.

Dietary sources of DHA include algae, fatty fish such as salmon and tuna and organ meats such as liver. A high quality supplement can also be a good source of DHA.

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