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J Nutr. 2016 Mar;146(3):516-23. doi: 10.3945/jn.115.220475. Epub 2016 Jan 27.

Consumption of Fish Oil Providing Amounts of Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid That Can Be Obtained from the Diet Reduces Blood Pressure in Adults with Systolic Hypertension: A Retrospective Analysis.

Author information

  • 1Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom;
  • 2Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition, Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom;
  • 3Human Development and Health Academic Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom;
  • 4Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom;
  • 5Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom;
  • 6Human Nutrition Research Centre, Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle, United Kingdom; and.
  • 7Human Development and Health Academic Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom; National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Southampton Biomedical Research Centre at University Hospitals Southampton National Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trust and the University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom.



Although many randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have examined the effects of the n-3 (ω-3) fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3) on blood pressure (BP) and vascular function, the majority have used doses of EPA+DHA of >3 g/d, which are unlikely to be achieved by dietary manipulation.


The objective was to examine, by using a retrospective analysis from a multicenter RCT, the impact of recommended EPA+DHA intakes achievable through diet on systolic and diastolic BPs and microvascular function in adults in the United Kingdom.


In a double-blind, placebo-controlled RCT, healthy men and women (n = 312) consumed a control oil or fish oil (FO) providing 0.7 or 1.8 g EPA+DHA/d, in random order, each for 8 wk. Fasting BP and microvascular function (using laser Doppler iontophoresis) were assessed and plasma collected for the quantification of markers of vascular function. Participants were retrospectively genotyped for the endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) rs1799983 variant.


No effects of n-3 fatty acid treatment or any treatment × eNOS genotype interactions were evident in the group as a whole for any of the clinical or biochemical outcomes. Assessment of response according to hypertension status at baseline indicated a significant (P = 0.046) FO-induced reduction (mean: 5 mm Hg) in systolic BP, specifically in those with isolated systolic hypertension (n = 31). No dose response was observed.


These findings indicate that in adults with isolated systolic hypertension, daily doses of EPA+DHA as low as 0.7 g show clinically meaningful BP reductions, which, at a population level, could be associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk. Confirmation of findings in an RCT in which participants are prospectively recruited on the basis of BP status is required to draw definite conclusions.

© 2016 American Society for Nutrition.


adhesion molecules; blood pressure; eNOS genotype; fish oils; nitric oxide; n–3 PUFA; vascular function

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