Vegan sources of omega-3s reduce heart disease risk by up to 20%, new analysis finds

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According to a new study, plant-based omega-3s offer heart health benefits and may reduce the risk of serious heart disease. Published in the medical journal, Advances in Nutritionthe results indicate that vegan omega-3s provide benefits comparable to those commonly found in fish.

Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), are not produced naturally by the body. Supplementation has traditionally taken the form of fish oils. Now, consuming plant sources has been shown to be an effective way to fight cardiovascular disease. Study results indicate a 10% lower risk of heart disease and a 20% lower risk of a fatal coronary event.

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What are omega-3s and why do we need them?

Omega-3 fatty acids are made up of three different acids. ALA, found in plant-based foods, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The latter two are found in seafood, although ALA can be converted into them, in reduced amounts. Omega-3s are considered vital for heart health and important for overall well-being.

Researchers have reviewed the results of many studies on ALA. Particular attention was paid to the effects of intake on heart disease and correlated risk factors. A combination of participant reports and scientific analysis (biomarkers) of ALA levels was used to assess the acid’s effectiveness. By comparing the results of the study, it became clear that ALA was effective in reducing things like cholesterol and blood pressure.

“When people with low levels of omega-3s in their diets ate ALA, they saw a benefit in cardiovascular health,” reported Jennifer Fleming, assistant professor of nutrition at Penn State. “But when people with high levels of omega-3s from other sources ate more ALA, they also saw a benefit. It could be that ALA works synergistically with other omega-3s.

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What is the recommended daily dose of ALA?

Pre-existing nutritional guidelines state that adults should glean between 0.6 and 1 percent of their daily energy needs from ALA. This breaks down to around 1.1 grams for women and 1.6 grams for men. In simpler terms, six to seven walnuts would provide the daily dose, just under a teaspoon of flaxseed, added to breakfast cereal or a smoothie. Chia seeds also provide a reliable source of ALA and are easy to add to almost any dish. Swapping canola oil when cooking usually gets the daily grams as well.

By analyzing previous studies, the researchers concluded that current guidelines may need to be revised to suggest higher levels of ALA intake. This will likely be investigated if the acid’s effect on other chronic diseases is investigated further. Improving diabetes was cited as a potential area for attention.

“With the advent of precision nutrition and personalized medicine, we are more aware than ever of the need to identify and target those who may benefit the most from increasing their food intake. rich in ALA”, Aleix Sala-Vila, lead author of the journal and researcher at the Institut Hospital del Mar d’Investigacions Mèdiques-Barcelona said. Science Daily. “Paying close attention to the amount of ALA in the blood and how it affects heart health could help in this effort.”

vegan omega-3
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The new miracle ingredient

Food and supplement producers realize that ALA is a must. As such, many are looking to create plant-based capsules or simply add vegan omega-3s to their products, eliminating the need for supplementation altogether. As a selling point, added omega is a hot topic, with plant-based seafood makers jumping at the link between their offerings and conventional alternatives that are traditionally loaded with omega-3s.

In January this year, Dutch brand Wellness Innovations revealed that it had secured €1.2 million in funding to continue developing fish-free supplements. The company produces an omega-3 gelatin-free capsule filled with algae oil. It claims to offer nutritional support comparable to fish oil, while preventing overfishing.

Also in January, Israel’s Plantish unveiled its new hyper-realistic salmon fillet. Besides looking indistinguishable from the real thing, the startup claims it provides identical nutrition to conventional salmon. Protein, B vitamins and omega fatty acids included. It is assumed that the latter comes from seaweed extract, which is used in the composition.

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