Fish oil has long been used a natural remedy for high blood pressure. It is a rich source of two important long chain, omega-3 fatty acids, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Fish oil is extracted from the flesh of fish such as herrings, salmon, pilchards, mackerel and sardines. It is also derived from the micro-algae that the fish feeds on. Fish oil supplements are available over the counter at all major medical and herbal stores across the world.
Health benefits of fish oil
Apart from lowering blood pressure, fish oil also helps:
- Reduce triglycerides
- Reduce the risk of arrhythmia or abnormal heart rhythm
- Slow the development of plaque in the arteries
- Reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack
- Reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death in people with heart disease
- Reduce symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, joint pain and arthritis
- Weight loss, fertility, energy, pregnancy
Fish oil and high blood pressure
Omega-3 fatty acids are converted into series three prostaglandins and series 5 leukotrienes in the body. These compounds reduce inflammation, countering the effect of omega-6 fatty acids derived from vegetable oils, which promote inflammation.
Taking omega-3 fats in good amounts can reduce the production of inflammatory compounds. This prevents premature hardening, clogging and furring up of arteries. It also prevents the progression of hypertension. In short, the ability of fish oil to lower blood pressure can be attributed to its:
- Vasodilation properties: Helps relax blood vessels, improving blood flow
- Anti-inflammatory properties: Prevents arteries from swelling
- Anti-coagulant effects: Fish oil acts as a blood thinner and reduces the risk of clots
Till date, numerous studies have been conducted to study the effect of fish oil on blood pressure, and most of them have shown a positive correlation. Let us check out some of these studies.
Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid and Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
An analysis of results from 70 clinical trials has revealed that:
- Compared to placebo, DHA+EPA intake can reduce blood pressure by 1.52/0.99 mmHg on average in all people, regardless of whether or not they have hypertension
- Blood pressure lowered by 4.51/3.05 mmHg on an average in people with untreated hypertension
- It was concluded that all doses of fish oil could lower systolic blood pressure, but a dose of at least 2 grams is required to reduce diastolic blood pressure
Blood Pressure Decrease With Ingestion Of A Soya Product (kinako) Or Fish Oil In Women With The Metabolic Syndrome: Role Of Adiponectin And Nitric Oxide
The study included 65 women with metabolic syndrome. They were divided into three groups: one group received 3 grams fish oil daily, other received 29 grams soy, and third continued their usual diet. The results were:
- An increase in Adiponectin And Nitric Oxide levels in fish oil and kinako group
- Lower blood pressure in fish oil group
A Systematic Review Of Fish-oil Supplements For The Prevention And Treatment Of Hypertension
A systematic review of 17 studies with 1524 participants was conducted to explore the effects of fish oil supplements in both hypertensive and normotensive participants with blood pressure 140/85 mmHg at least.
- Data from eight studies in hypertensive participants found a significant reduction in diastolic and systolic blood pressure; 1.47 mmHg and 2.56 mmHg respectively
- Nine studies in normotensive participants revealed a non-significant reduction in both diastolic and systolic blood pressure
- No relationship between the dose of fish oil and the effect on blood pressure observed
Fish oil safety
According to experts, it is safe to take up to 3 grams of fish oil in supplement form. Pregnant women should avoid taking fish oil as Vitamin A may cause harm to the baby. People with blood clotting disorders should not take fish oil.
Side effects associated with fish oil
- Fishy breath
- A fishy taste in the mouth
- Stomach upset
- Loose stools
Fish oil is a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids. It is a natural and effective way to lower blood pressure. It also offers a host of other health benefits.