Essential fatty acids are called “essential” for a reason: they are essential for human health. And two new studies—both conducted on omega-3 fatty acids—are highlighting just how diverse these health benefits are.

One study, a review of dozens of earlier studies, found that omega-3s had a “preventive role in heart failure.” The second study, conducted on American athletes, found that omega-3s helped protect the brain of football players.

Though these studies coroborate research conducted in the past two decades, the additional findings are welcome news. Since the FDA strictly limits the health claims that can be made regarding omega-3s, ongoing research will help in the push for additional claims.

Heart study details

To conduct the heart study researchers reviewed clinical trials, in vitro, and in vivo studies published since 2015.

The authors of the study termed the protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids as “multifaceted, by acting upon several inflammatory markers and cardiovascular functions such as flow-mediated dilation, blood pressure, and more.” The findings were published in the journal Nutrients in August 2021.

Based on several large-scale trials and meta-analyses covered in the review, the authors of the study report that there is sufficient evidence to conlcude that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce cardiac remodeling. Cardiac remodeling, also called ventricular remodeling, is defined as a group of changes that alter the size, mass and function of the heart after injury.

The researchers noted omega-3s also reduce cardiac fibrosis, a scarring event within the heart. Cardiac fibrosis is most commonly caused by heart disease, aortic stenosis and hypertension.

Remodeling and fibrosis are the two primary diagnosis factors of heart failure.

Based on the most recent studies highlighted in the review—studies which encompass the health outcomes of hundreds of thousands of patients—both the American Heart Association and the European Society of Cardiology define dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids as an effective therapy for reducing the risk of hospitalization in heart failure patients.

Health claims that the FDA has approved can be seen in the listing at the bottom of this page.

Brain study details

To observe the benefit of omega-3 supplementation on football brain injuries researchers collected data on two male teams in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Players on one team received daily omega-3 fatty acid supplementation while the other team served as a control group.

Repetitive sub-concussive head impacts over the course of a season were associated with increases in levels of serum neurofilament light (Nf-L). Nf-L is a biomarker of nerve fiber injury and a marker of head trauma.

However, the researchers found that daily doses of omega-3 fatty acids throughout the season attenuated these Nf-L increases. The college athletes receiving the omega-3 supplements also had significantly higher omega-3 Index scores, and improved omega-6 to omega-3 ratios, compared to athletes in the control group.

The findings were published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in September 2021.​

“These findings suggest a cardio and neuroprotective effect of combined EPA, DPA and DHA supplementation in American-style football athletes,” the researchers wrote in their conclusion. “Further studies are warranted to examine the differential effects of these omega-3 fatty acids.”

If you’re convinced of the benefits of essential fatty acids, you owe it to yourself to check out Optimal E.F.A from Optimal Health Systems.

Optimal E.F.A provides potent essential fatty acids via all-vegetarian sources—and provides them in the correct ratio of omega-3s and omega-6s.

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Article sources: Nutrients/MDPI, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition/BioMedCentral.