Maximum Wellness, Episode 12: Essential Fatty Acid Intake Is Inversely Proportional to Hypertension Risk

Research, which appears in the June 2019 issue of Nutrients – Association of Dietary Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acid Intake with Hypertension: NHANES 2007-2014 – says, “that dietary n3 (omega 3) and n6 (omega 6) fatty acids intake were inversely associated with the risk of hypertension in US adults.”

Investigators from the Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics, the School of Public Health of Qingdao University in China comment that by 2025, hypertension (high blood pressure) will rise from 22 percent in 2014 to 29.2 % of adults globally, without intervention.

In the US, that number over the past twenty years, is 32% – costing, in treatment alone, $51.2 billion from 2012 to 2013.

Stage 1 hypertension is diagnosed with a systolic blood pressure (SBP) of 130-139 mm Hg or a diastolic Blood pressure (DBP) of 80-89 mm Hg, while stage 2 is a SBP of greater than 140 mm Hg or a DBP of greater than 90.

Prior research has determined that the proper ratio of Omega 6 to 3 fatty acids, components of polyunsaturated fatty acids found in oily fish – like salmon – and to a lesser degree – walnuts (alpha linolenic acid) – have shown to be beneficial with cardiovascular disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. Yet, no pertinent studies have reported on an association of these essential fatty acids with hypertension risk.

The Chinese researchers chose to use a cross-sectional study population, that included 18,434 NHANES individuals, after appropriate exclusion criteria was met. Blood pressure assessments were measured three times – using a protocol that followed procedures developed by the American Heart Association (AHA).

Dietary Omega 3 & 6 intakes were obtained from 24-hour recall interviews – along with demographic characteristics, such age stratification, gender, race, education level, annual household income, and work activity. Smoking history and alcohol consumption – plus total daily energy intake was also assessed.

The researchers determined that, “the intakes of n3 and n6 fatty acids were associated with decreased risk of hypertension. At the same time, the analyses of different stage hypertension and dose-response relationship also found stable results.”

The investigators drew assumptions, as to why the n3 fatty acids might decrease hypertensive risk. Among them, “we all know inflammatory effects play an important role in the occurrence and development of hypertension. The anti-inflammatory effect could also explain the mechanism between n3 fatty acid and the decreased hypertension risk.” notes that, omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy people, and those at high risk of — or who have — cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats), which can lead to sudden death. Omega-3 fatty acids also decrease triglyceride levels, slow growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque, and lower blood pressure (slightly).” The AHA recommends eating fatty fish at least two servings – 3.5 ounces per serving cooked – twice weekly. However, notes the AHA, those with coronary artery disease, may not get enough omega-3 by diet alone. These people may want to talk to their doctor about supplements. And for those with high triglycerides, even larger doses could help.

Remember, you should always consult your physician before beginning any exercise, diet, or nutritional supplementation program.

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