Dietary Intake of Alpha-Linolenic Acid and Risk of Fatal Ischemic Heart Disease Among Women

Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 May;69(5):890-7. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/69.5.890.

Abstract

Background: Experimental studies in laboratory animals and humans suggest that alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) may reduce the risk of arrhythmia.

Objective: The objective was to examine the association between dietary intake of alpha-linolenic acid and risk of fatal ischemic heart disease (IHD).

Design: This was a prospective cohort study. The intake of alpha-linolenic acid was derived from a 116-item food-frequency questionnaire completed in 1984 by 76283 women without previously diagnosed cancer or cardiovascular disease.

Results: During 10 y of follow-up, we documented 232 cases of fatal IHD and 597 cases of nonfatal myocardial infarction. After adjustment for age, standard coronary risk factors, and dietary intake of linoleic acid and other nutrients, a higher intake of alpha-linolenic acid was associated with a lower relative risk (RR) of fatal IHD; the RRs from the lowest to highest quintiles were 1.0, 0.99, 0.90, 0.67, and 0.55 (95% CI: 0.32, 0.94; P for trend = 0.01). For nonfatal myocardial infarction there was only a modest, nonsignificant trend toward a reduced risk when extreme quintiles were compared (RR: 0.85; 95% CI: 0.61, 1.19; P for trend = 0.50). A higher intake of oil and vinegar salad dressing, an important source of alpha-linolenic acid, was associated with reduced risk of fatal IHD when women who consumed this food > or =5-6 times/wk were compared with those who rarely consumed this food (RR: 0.46; 95% CI: 0.27, 0.76; P for trend = 0.001).

Conclusions: This study supports the hypothesis that a higher intake of alpha-linolenic acid is protective against fatal IHD. Higher consumption of foods such as oil-based salad dressing that provide polyunsaturated fats, including alpha-linolenic acid, may reduce the risk of fatal IHD.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Coronary Disease / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Disease / etiology
  • Coronary Disease / mortality
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences*
  • Humans
  • Medical History Taking
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurses
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / administration & dosage*

Substances

  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • Vitamin E