Sunday, May 20, 2018 by Michelle Simmons
A study found that fish oil benefits the heart by counteracting the effects of mental stress in several measurements of cardiovascular health, such as heart rate and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA).
In conducting the study, a team of researchers at Michigan Technological University worked with 67 adult participants. At the start of the study, the research team conducted a battery of tests on the participants to assess their cardiovascular function, such as heart rate, blood pressure, muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA), and blood flow through the forearm and calf. These tests were conducted first when the participants were at rest. The same tests were performed again when the participants were accomplishing a mental arithmetic test, while the investigators encouraged them to hurry. This particular situation induced short-term mental stress on the participants.
After that, the team divided the participants into two groups. Each group was randomly assigned to take either nine grams of fish oil each day or nine grams of olive oil. The olive oil served as a control as it does not provide the same cardiovascular beneficial effects as fish oil. After eight weeks of the oil interventions, the researchers conducted the same tests again on the participants.
The results of the study revealed that the test results remained the same in the two groups when they were at rest. However, the team saw changes in the tests when the two groups underwent mental stress. Participants who took fish oil exhibited blunted heart rate reactivity while they were stressed compared to those who took olive oil. Likewise, those who took fish oil had blunted MSNA reactivity to mental stress.
The study suggests that fish oil consumption could protect the cardiovascular system during mental stress. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have long been known to keep the heart healthy.
“Overall, the data support and extend the growing evidence that fish oil may have positive health benefits regarding neural cardiovascular control in humans and suggest important physiological interactions between fish oil and psychological stress that may contribute to disease etiology,” the researchers wrote.
The findings of the study were published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology.
Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to have various medical benefits. You can get your fish oil from supplements or by adding omega-3 rich foods in your diet. Here are the other health benefits fish oil could give you.
Read more news stories and studies about the heart by going to Heart.news.