Fish oils healthier for women's hearts than men's, study finds

October 12, 2012
Fish oils healthier for women’s hearts than men’s

(Medical Xpress)—When it comes to matters of a healthy heart women may benefit more from eating oily fish than men, a new study has found.

The research, conducted at the University of Reading, also showed for the first time that fish oils could be better for our heart in more ways than previously thought by having more of a direct impact on the muscle cells that control the of our blood vessels.

According to the British Heart Foundation heart disease is the single biggest killer of women in the UK, causing three times more deaths than . Many of these deaths may be prevented by the right lifestyle, including diet. Saturated fat is thought to have long-term negative effects on our heart because it raises levels of and reduces the elasticity of our blood vessels which can lead to .

Reading researchers introduced small amounts of fish oils to the meals of both men and women containing saturated fat. They found that elasticity was improved four-fold in women compared with two-fold in men. In fact the beneficial effect of the in women was as potent as that of drugs that are prescribed to people with poor blood vessel elasticity, such as those with diabetes.

Professor Christine Williams, the University's first Hugh Sinclair Professor of Nutrition and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation who led the study, said: "Studies examining women's heart health are much less common than those which study men, partly because the studies are harder to carry out in women due to the varying effects of hormones during the . In addition, many believe men are the only ones to suffer from heart disease. However nearly 40,000 women die of each year in the UK and we do not yet know whether all the diet recommendations which we currently advise are as effective for women as for men. The good news here is that current recommendations that we should all eat more oily fish appears to be more effective for women than men.

"As well as discovering the effect of fish oils is greater in women we also found that people with a gene variation that produces the protein eNOS, which helps to increase blood flow, also benefitted more. Our study showed that people who carry the rarer form of the protein, which is about 10% of the UK/world population, respond twice as well to fish oils, suggesting they would particularly benefit from additional intake.

"This research supports the view that the effects of diets vary, being more effective in certain genders and genotypes. Our study was very carefully designed to include equal numbers of men and women and also equal numbers of people with the two types of gene variants, so that the results are very unlikely to be due to chance. Although the responses varied, all the subjects in the study benefitted from taking fish oils with a meal. However, for and those with the gene variant, the responses were very marked indeed, and when it comes to their diet could give them considerable health benefits in the future."

Fish oil is known to increase the release of nitric oxide from the lining of the blood vessel wall which causes relaxation of the vessel and increases blood flow. However the researchers found that some of the relaxation effect on the blood vessel wall may be due to direct actions of the fish oil acting on the themselves, rather than on the cells lining the blood vessel wall.

Professor Williams added: "This is an exciting discovery which gives us a new way of looking at how our diet affects the health of our blood vessels, and possibly more effective ways of improving in the future."

The study was undertaken in the University of Reading's Hugh Sinclair Human Nutrition Group, which has an international reputation for its research into the relationship between diet and the risk of chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease and cancer.

"Glu298Asp polymorphism influences the beneficial effects of fish oil fatty acids on postprandial vascular function[S]" was published on 1 October in the Journal of Lipid Research.

Explore further: Young women may reduce heart disease risk eating fish with omega 3 fatty acids

More information: www.jlr.org/content/53/10/2205.full.pdf+html

Related Stories

Young women may reduce heart disease risk eating fish with omega 3 fatty acids

December 5, 2011
Young women may reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease simply by eating more fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, researchers reported in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Intake of the right fatty acids can help to prevent heart attacks

June 30, 2011
There is much confusion at present about the importance of fatty acids in preventing heart attacks. Recent studies have questioned the need to reduce the intake of saturated fatty acids in the diet and to increase that of ...

Eating fish can reduce the risk of diabetes

November 11, 2011
A study analyses the dietary patterns of the adult Spanish population with high cardiovascular risk. The results reveal a high consumption of both red meat and fish. However, whilst eating lots of cured meats is associated ...

Heart failure risk lower in women who often eat baked/broiled fish

May 24, 2011
The risk of developing heart failure was lower for postmenopausal women who frequently ate baked or broiled fish, but higher for those who ate more fried fish, in a study reported in Circulation: Heart Failure, an American ...

Recommended for you

When traveling on public transport, you may want to cover your ears

November 22, 2017
The noise levels commuters are exposed to while using public transport or while biking, could induce hearing loss if experienced repeatedly and over long periods of time, according to a study published in the open access ...

Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses

November 22, 2017
Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses, but spirits are most frequently associated with feelings of aggression, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Air pollution linked to poorer quality sperm

November 22, 2017
Air pollution, particularly levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is associated with poorer quality sperm, suggests research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Sunrise and sunset guide daily activities of city-dwellers

November 21, 2017
Despite artificial lightning and social conventions, the dynamics of daylight still influence the daily activities of people living in modern, urban environments, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

Older men need more protein to maintain muscles

November 21, 2017
The amount of protein recommended by international guidelines is not sufficient to maintain muscle size and strength in older men, according to a new study.

Exercising and eating well are greater contributors to health than standing at work

November 21, 2017
By now you've probably heard the edict from the health community: Sitting is the new smoking. Perhaps you've converted to a standing desk, or maybe you have a reminder on your phone to get up once an hour and walk around ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.