EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are the marine Omega-3s found in fatty cold-water fish, shellfish, and algae. Thousands of studies have already found benefits of omega-3s when it comes to overall wellness, including heart, brain, eye, and prenatal/maternal health.
A new study looked at how these healthy fats could help lower blood pressure at a specific dose.
The National Institutes of Health currently recommends that adults consume about 1.1-1.6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day. But this research wanted to answer the question, what is the optimal dose of EPA and DHA to lower blood pressure?
Researchers looked at 71 clinical trials published from 1987 to 2020. There were nearly 5,000 participants combined, ranging in age from 22 to 86 years, and they consumed dietary or prescription supplement sources of fatty acids for an average of 10 weeks.
Here’s what they found:
- Those who consumed between 2 and 3 grams daily of combined DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids (in supplements, food, or both) had reduced systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure by an average of 2 mm Hg.
- At 3g a day of omega-3s, systolic blood pressure (SBP) decreased an average of 4.5 mm Hg for those with hypertension and about 2 mm Hg on average for those without it.
- At 5g a day of omega-3s, SBP declined an average of nearly 4 mm Hg for those with hypertension and less than 1 mm Hg on average for those without.
To put this in perspective, a 4-5 ounce serving of salmon supplies about 3g of omega-3 fatty acids. Unless you’re eating fish every day, a supplement would likely be required to meet this threshold for lowering blood pressure.
“Our study supports the FDA guidance that EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by lowering high blood pressure, especially among people already diagnosed with hypertension,” says study author Xinzhi Li, M.D., Ph.D. He says that further research is needed to provide more evidence for the efficacy of this dose of omegas for blood pressure.
However, you can still follow the American Heart Association’s recommendation to eat two servings (3-4 ounces cooked) of fatty cold-water fish per week as a start. And when looking for supplements, be sure to research the manufacturer well for the source of their fish oil and purity.
If you want to take a deep dive into the many benefits of EPA and DHA, check out this informative article.