Study Reviews

Diets rich in omega-3 FA could be a strategy for preventing primary hypertension

  • 08/03/2018

This is the conclusion reached in a recent study by German and Swiss investigators (among them, the developers of the omega-3 index) on 2,036 healthy adults aged between 25 and 41 (those with cardiovascular disease, diabetes or a body mass index over 35 kg/m2 were excluded beforehand). The omega-3 index accurately reflects an individual’s omega-3 fatty acid (FA) status. It assesses the presence in the body of the main omega-3 FAs, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), provided by diet and synthesis in the body from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The index calculates the percentage of total FAs in the red blood cell membrane represented by EPA and DHA; a level above 7.5% is considered acceptable. Previously, the Framingham Study demonstrated an association between omega-3 FA status and blood pressure (BP), but on this occasion, the association was also shown in younger people (blood pressure increases with age due to hardening of the arteries). Both systolic BP (SBP) and diastolic BP (DBP) are independently associated with heart failure, peripheral artery disease and kidney failure. Thus, high blood pressure should be considered an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In the study described here, compared to individuals in the lowest quartile, those in the highest quartile had a SBP and DBP 4 and 2 mmHg lower, respectively (p <0.01). Furthermore, an inverse linear relation between the omega-3 index and the BP measurement during medical visits was observed (two tests in 24 h). Notably, the average omega-3 index (4.58%) was below recommended values (8%) in this cohort. In other words, a high omega-3 index is associated with significantly lower SBP and DBP figures in young individuals with normal blood pressure. Diets rich in omega-3 FA could be a strategy for preventing primary hypertension.


Filipovic MG, Aeschbacher S, Reiner MF, Stivala S, Gobbato S, Bonetti N, et al. Whole blood omega-3 fatty acid concentrations are inversely associated with blood pressure in young, healthy adults. J Hypertens. 2018;36(7):1548-54.

Alcazar JM, Oliveras A, Orte LM, Jimenez S, Segura J. Hipertensión arterial esencial. In: Lorenzo V, López Gómez JM (Eds) Nefrología al Día.