n-3 fatty acids of marine origin lower systolic blood pressure and triglycerides but raise LDL cholesterol compared with n-3 and n-6 fatty acids from plants

Am J Clin Nutr. 1990 Jun;51(6):1028-34. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/51.6.1028.


We compared the cardiovascular risk-reduction potential of three major polyunsaturated fatty acids in a double-blind study. Thirty-three normotensive and mildly hypercholesterolemic men were randomly allocated to one of three diets supplemented with linoleic acid (14.3 g/d), alpha-linolenic acid (9.2 g/d), or eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) plus docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (3.4 g/d). Diets were matched to provide similar amounts of the major classes of fatty acids and cholesterol. Blood pressure and plasma lipids were measured for 6 wk after a 3-wk run-in period on the linoleic acid supplement. For the diet supplemented with EPA plus DHA compared with the linoleic acid diet systolic blood pressure fell 5.1 mm Hg (p = 0.01); plasma triglyceride and VLDL cholesterol fell by 39% (p = 0.001) and 49% (p = 0.01), respectively; and LDL cholesterol rose by 9% (p = 0.01). There were no significant changes with the diet supplemented with alpha-linolenic acid. The net effect on cardiovascular risk therefore is complex and the systolic blood pressure reduction was substantial.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood*
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Linoleic Acid
  • Linoleic Acids / pharmacology
  • Linolenic Acids / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Triglycerides / blood*
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid


  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Linoleic Acids
  • Linolenic Acids
  • Triglycerides
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Linoleic Acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid