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Keywords:

  • coronary heart disease;
  • fish;
  • long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid;
  • omega-3 index;
  • supplementation

Abstract

Aim:  To compare the impact of recommended intakes of fish and fish oil supplements on the omega-3 index and selected risk factors in patients with coronary heart disease.

Methods:  A 12-week crossover intervention comparing the impact of 1 g/day of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from fresh salmon or fish oil capsules on the omega-3 index and cardiovascular risk factors. Eleven patients with coronary heart disease, recruited from St. Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, participated in the study.

Results:  A decrease in blood pressure (>5 mmHg; P < 0.05) was observed after the fish but not the fish oil. The change in waist to hip ratio also favoured the fish intervention. Resting heart rate fell by a similar amount on both interventions, and the omega-3 index increased significantly on both; from 6% to 7–8% (P < 0.01). Blood lipids did not improve on either arm.

Conclusions:  In Australians with coronary heart disease, 1 g/day of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid from fish or supplements over 12 weeks was effective in increasing the omega-3 index. Fish intake may have additional cardiovascular benefits beyond the omega-3 effect as evidenced by the substantial blood pressure reduction following the fish arm warranting examination in a larger study.