Saturday, December 25, 2010

Omega-3 lowers blood pressure

A new study has suggested that a regular diet rich in Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids helps lower blood pressure.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in certain fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils and are known to promote health.

It is especially beneficial for the heart, reported the online edition of health Magazine WebMD. Earlier research had also found that it plays a crucial role in brain function as well as normal growth and development.

Short-term studies had already indicated that taking dietary supplements of this fatty acid could lower blood pressure in people with hypertension, but its impact in people without hypertension was previously unknown.

The new research by a team of scientists led by Hirotsugu Ueshima at Japan's Shiga University found that consuming the fatty acids as part of a normal diet may prevent blood pressure problems.

The scientists studied 4,680 men and women in Japan, China, Britain and the US. Participants, 40-59 years old, met the researchers four times over three weeks. In each session, they got their blood pressure checked, provided a urine sample, and reported everything they had eaten and drunk in the past 24 hours.

The researchers calculated each person's intake of omega-3 fatty acids and also considered other factors, including participants' age, gender, alcohol consumption, physical activity and dietary restrictions.

According to the study, published in the journal Hypertension, participants with the highest intake of Omega-3 fatty acids had the tendency to have the lowest blood pressure.

The pattern was particularly strong in people who didn't have high blood pressure and who weren't already on restricted diets or medications to control their blood pressure. Omega-3 fatty acids didn't appear to drastically slash blood pressure.

However, every small reduction in blood pressure counts and including foods rich in Omega-3 such as flaxseeds, walnuts and fatty fish such as salmon may have blood pressure benefits, the researchers noted.