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Dieting to Lose Those Extra Pounds? Omega-3s May Help Keep your Blood Pressure Low.

A new study shows that increased omega-3 consumption may lower blood pressure for overweight individuals on a calorie restricted diet.


The study, published in the June 2009 issue of the journal Nutrition, included 324 participants from Iceland, Spain, and Ireland between 20 and 40 years of age.


All of the participants were overweight, with body mass indexes ranging from 27.5-32.5 kg/m2.  A healthy BMI range is 18.5-24.9kg/m2.


The participants were randomly assigned to calorie restricted diets that incorporated one of the following: salmon, cod, fish oil capsules, or control (sunflower oil capsules and no seafood) for a period of 8 weeks.


Body weight, diastolic blood pressure, systolic blood pressure, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) levels were measured at the beginning and end of the study.


The salmon group ate 150 g of fish 3 times a week, which provided 2.1 g omega-3 fatty acids per day.


The cod fish consumed by the cod fish group only provided 0.3 g of omega-3s per 150 g of fish.


After 8 weeks, the average weight loss among the participants was 5.2 kilograms. The researchers also observed reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure of 4.4 and 4.1 mmHg, respectively.


The salmon and fish oil groups experienced greater blood pressure reductions than the cod group. The researchers were surprised to find that there was no significant difference in blood pressure reductions between the salmon/fish oil groups and the control group.


However, when the researchers looked only at individuals who had lower levels of DHA at the beginning of the study, they saw a much greater reduction in blood pressure compared to those with normal levels of DHA.


The researchers therefore concluded that salmon consumption three times per week can decrease blood pressure similar to fish oil and significantly more than lean fish during an 8-wk calorie restriction in young overweight individuals, particularly for individuals with low fish intakes and  lower levels of DHA.


This study adds to a rapidly growing body of science associating omega-3s with blood pressure benefits.


Omega-3s have far ranging benefits beyond their potential to lower blood pressure including cognitive benefits, lower risk of depression and reduction in cardiovascular disease risk.


Eating fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, lake trout, and albacore tuna is a good way to boost omega-3 blood levels.


If fish doesn't make it to your dinner table on a regular basis, another option is to take a quality fish oil supplement high in EPA and DHA and certified for purity.

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