A new study has found that consuming alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in plant foods like walnuts and flaxseed, was associated with a 10 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 20 percent lower risk of a fatal heart attack. . disease.
The research is published in the journal ‘Advances in Nutrition’. Penny Kris-Etherton, Evan Pugh University Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Penn State, said the review suggested there are multiple ways to meet the recommendations for omega-3 fatty acids.
“People may not want to eat seafood for a variety of reasons, but it’s still important for them to consume omega-3 fatty acids to reduce the risk of heart disease and promote overall health,” Kris-Etherton said.
“Vegetable ALA in the form of walnuts or flaxseed may also provide these benefits, especially when included in a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains,” added Kris-Etherton.
Jennifer Fleming, an assistant professor of nutrition at Penn State, said they also found evidence that people who do eat seafood may get additional benefit from eating plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.
“When people with low levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their diets ate ALA, they saw a benefit in terms of cardiovascular health,” Fleming said. “But when people with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids from other sources ate more ALA, they also saw a benefit. It may be that ALA works synergistically with other omega-3 fatty acids,” she added.
Previous research has linked omega-3 fatty acids with a lower risk of heart disease. However, this conclusion was based on a large scientific basis of marine omega-3 fatty acids, and there was less evidence for the benefits of ALA.
For the review, the researchers analyzed data from previous studies to evaluate the effects of ALA on heart disease and risk factors for heart disease such as blood pressure and inflammation. The studies analyzed included both randomized controlled trials and observational studies. While some of the observational studies relied on participants reporting how often they ate certain foods to determine how much ALA they consumed, others used biomarkers — a way of measuring levels of ALA in the blood — as a more accurate measure.
“With the advent of precision nutrition and personalized medicine, we are more aware than ever of the need to identify and target individuals who can derive the greatest benefit from increasing their consumption of ALA-rich foods,” said Aleix Sala-Vila , lead author on the paper and researcher at the Institut Hospital del Mar d’Investigacions Mediques-Barcelona.
“Paying attention to the amount of ALA in the blood and how it affects heart health can help with this,” she added.
After analyzing the studies, the researchers found that ALA had beneficial effects on reducing atherogenic lipids and lipoproteins — for example, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides — as well as blood pressure and inflammation. This could help explain ALA’s heart health benefits, according to Emilio Ros, researcher emeritus at Institut d’Investigacions Biomediques August Pi Sunyer, a research institution affiliated with Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and the University of Barcelona.
“We were able to find evidence supporting current dietary guidelines that ALA should provide approximately 0.6 percent to 1 percent of total energy per day, which is approximately 1.1 grams per day for women and 1.6 grams per day for women. men,” said Ros. “It can be included in the diet with foods such as walnuts, flaxseed, and cooking oils such as canola and soybean oil,” she added.
These recommendations equate to about 1/2 ounce of walnuts or just under a teaspoon of flaxseed oil.
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