High consumption of omega-3 fish oils good for the heart

A study that looked and compared the health of white middle aged men in the US and Japanese men has led to links between Omega 3 fish oil and healthier coronary arteries.

The study, published in Heart, report that middle-aged Japanese men living in Japan had lower incidence of coronary artery calcification, a predictor of heart disease, compared to their US counterparts.

Researchers believe it is due to the significantly higher consumption of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish which is a main part of the diet of Japanese men. Levels of fish-derived omega-3 fatty acid in the blood were more than 100% higher in the Japanese than in the white men.

The study charted nearly 300 men over five years, documenting multiple factors that affect cardiovascular health - including smoking, cholesterol levels, alcohol consumption, diabetes rates and blood pressure.   

After accounting for risk factors for heart disease, the US men had three times the incidence of coronary artery calcification as the Japanese men, said the team, led by Dr Akira Sekikawa from the University of Pittsburgh.

"The vast difference in heart disease and levels of marine-derived omega-3 fatty acid are not due to genetic factors," Sekikawa reported. "When we look at Japanese Americans, we find that their levels of coronary artery calcification are actually higher than that of the rest of the U.S. population."

The team found that the average dietary intake of fish by Japanese people living in Japan is nearly 100 grams each day, while the average American eats about 7 to 13 grams of fish a day, or about one serving a week.

Analysis of their data showed that Japanese men had a significantly lower incidence rate of coronary artery calcification compared to white men.