Background: Diets and Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have been considered as important factors to reduce the risk of cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, but there are few details on the effects on healthy subjects. The aim of the present study was to examine the variation of several physiological parameters in healthy subjects on different diets supplemented with Omega-3 fatty acids.
Materials and methods: The experiment was carried out on 33 subjects divided into four groups according to a double-blind cross-over design with a 1 : 1 ratio for Omega-3 (vs. placebo) and open-label parallel-groups with a 1 : 1 ratio for the Zone diet (vs. the diet suggested by the Italian National Research Institute for Nutrition and Foods). Blood samples were collected at the beginning of the experiment and after 35 (cross-over) and 70 days. The Profile of Mood States test (POMS) was also performed.
Results: The arachidonic acid/eicosapentaenoic acid ratio (AA/EPA) was strongly reduced by Omega-3 with a supplementary effect of the diet and in particular the Zone diet. The AA/EPA reduction was correlated with a concomitant decrease of insulin and homocysteine levels. The Zone diet reduced skinfold thickness and body fat percentage and also showed antioxidant effects. The mood state changed after Omega-3 supplementation, with an increased POMS index. This was related to a concomitant reduction of AA/EPA and was particularly evident in the Zone diet.
Conclusion: AA/EPA and mood state are differently influenced by diet and Omega-3, body fat is particularly reduced by Zone diet, while blood parameters such as triglycerides/HDL ratio, insulin and homocysteine are related to AA/EPA variations. These findings are discussed in terms of differences in the composition of the diets and the influences of Omega-3 on physiological functions.