Epidemiologic evidence shows an inverse relation between fish consumption and death from ischemic heart disease. This beneficial effect is attributed to n-3 fatty acids.
The purpose of this study was to examine the association between plasma phospholipid concentrations of the n-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and various cardiovascular disease risk factors among Quebecers.
The study population consisted of 1460 subjects aged 18-74 y who participated in the 1990 Quebec Heart Health and Nutrition Survey. Data were obtained through home interviews and clinic visits.
Expressed as the percentage of total fatty acids in plasma phospholipids, the geometric means of EPA, DHA, and their combination were 0.47%, 1.19%, and 1.70%, respectively. Concentrations of n-3 fatty acids were positively associated with fish intake. We found positive associations between EPA and total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, plasma glucose, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure. We found positive associations between DHA and total cholesterol, the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol, triacylglycerols, systolic blood pressure, and plasma glucose and insulin. We also found positive associations between the ratio of EPA to arachidonic acid and total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and systolic blood pressure and a negative association with the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol.
Our results indicate that concentrations of EPA and DHA in plasma phospholipids reflected Quebecer fish consumption. Results also show that EPA and the ratio of EPA to arachidonic acid can positively influence HDL-cholesterol concentrations.