Would you eat salmon 3 times a week if it lowered your blood pressure?

Researchers at the University of Iceland, in Reykjavik report. Your decide.

First, the details.

  • 324 adults were randomly assigned to a treatment group for 8 weeks.
    • Energy-restricted diets (-30% relative to estimated requirements)
    • Salmon (150 grams 3 times per week, resulting in a daily consumption of 2.1 grams of omega-3)
    • Cod (150 grams 3 times per week, 0.3 grams of omega-3)
    • Fish oil capsules (1.3 grams of omega-3) daily
    • A control treatment of sunflower oil capsules and no seafood.
  • Body weight, diastolic and systolic blood pressure, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in red blood cell were measured.

And, the results.

  • Everybody significantly lost weight and lowered their systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
  • The salmon and fish oil groups achieved significantly lower diastolic blood pressure vs the cod group, but not vs control.
  • Lower levels of DHA in red blood cells were associated with significantly greater diastolic blood pressure reductions.

The bottom line?
These results support an earlier study that compared olive oil to sunflower oil. Researchers from the University of Naples, in Italy reported a 48% reduction in the use of blood pressure medications  with olive oil, while the sunflower oil reduced them by only 4%. Blood pressure was 135/90 at the end of the sunflower oil diet and 127/84 after the olive oil diet. The total cholesterol and triglycerides were also slightly lower after the olive oil.

With regard to eating fish, the message is that it’s not so important that you eat fish, but the type of fish you eat is.

To help you make the correct choice, USA Today has published a comparison of fish and other foods, here.

For background, there are 3 major types of omega 3 fatty acids that are ingested in foods and used by the body: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Once eaten, the body converts ALA to EPA and DHA, the 2 types of omega-3 fatty acids more readily used by the body.

6/4/09 20:10 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.