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Omega-3 Shown to Reduce Inflammation Markers, Protect Hearts

A study published in the March 2009 issue of the Journal of Nutrition found that supplementing with the omega-3 fatty acid docohexaenoic acid (DHA) may significantly reduce compounds in the body associated with inflammation.

For the study, a group of researchers from the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, the University of California and the Veterans Affairs Northern California Heathcare System recruited 34 men (ages 39-66) with increased triglyceride levels.

Elevated triglycerides- or hypertriglyceridaemia - has been linked to atherosclerosis and may increase the risk of heart disease.

Participants were randomly split into two groups and assigned either a DHA supplement (3 grams) or an olive oil placebo (which did not contain any omega-3s) which they took daily for 90 days.

In just 45 days researchers found that the DHA group had a 10% decrease in white blood cells called neutrophils, which are associated with inflammation. This reduction held throughout the remainder of the study.

By day 90, researchers observed a 15% reduction in C-reactive protein (CRP) and a 23% reduction in interleukin-6 levels, both of which are key inflammation markers linked to increases in risk for heart disease, certain cancers and neuro-degenerative diseases.

This is not the first study to identify omega-3 anti-inflammatory benefits. Previous research has shown omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA may reduce inflammation associated with respiratory diseases, joint pain and cognitive decline.

A good way to get more omega-3s is to maintain a diet rich in cold water fish like salmon, mackerel and herring. If you aren't a fan of fish - or worry about contaminants like lead or harmful mercury - a safe alternative may be to take a high quality omega-3 supplement that's certified for purity and contains at least 750 mg of combined EPA and DHA.
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