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A new study has found that even small amounts of fish oil can reduce blood pressure, but only in patients with a history of hypertension.

This new study was carried out by researchers from the University of East Anglia and led by Dr Anne Marie Minihane, Professor of Nutrigenetics. The researchers recruited 312 healthy men and women between 20 and 70 years old. Participants were given either control supplements containing palm and soybean oil or omega 3 fish oil supplements (0.7 or 1.8g) daily for 8 weeks.

Blood pressure and other markers of cardiovascular health were measured at the beginning and end of the study. Results showed that the groups taking fish oil had reduced systolic blood pressure at the end of the eight weeks. Both the smaller and higher doses were found to be effective. The researchers noted that this improvement was only observed in the participants who had high blood pressure at the beginning of the study.   

The researchers commented on the results:

Our main finding is that intakes of EPA + DHA, achievable through the consumption of 2-3 portions of oily fish/wk or 2 (fish oil) capsules / day, reduced systolic blood pressure by 5mm Hg in those with Systolic Hypertension. Such a reduction in blood pressure would be associated with roughly a 20% reduction in cardiovascular disease risk in middle age.”

Minihane, AM, Armah, CK et al. Consumption of fish oil providing amounts of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid that can be obtained from the diet reduces blood pressure in adults with systolic hypertension: a retrospective analysis.  The Journal of Nutrition.  Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.3945/jn.115.220475

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