Omega-3 fatty acids improve postprandial lipemia and associated endothelial dysfunction in healthy individuals - a randomized cross-over trial

Biomed Pharmacother. 2014 Oct;68(8):1071-7. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2014.10.008. Epub 2014 Oct 28.


Background: Postprandial elevation of triglycerides impairs endothelial function and contributes to the development of atherosclerosis. We investigated the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on postprandial endothelial function and lipid profiles.

Methods: Healthy volunteers [10] were given supplementation at 4g/day omega-3 fatty acids (or were not treated) for 4 weeks in a randomised crossover study. Postprandial levels of various lipids were monitored and endothelial function assessed by brachial artery flow-mediated dilation during fasting and after a standard cookie test.

Results: Omega-3 fatty acids reduced postprandial endothelial dysfunction compared with the control diet (flow-mediated dilation at 4h=-0.5±1.2 vs. -2.0±1.6%, P=0.03). Postprandial levels of triglycerides, apolipoprotein B-48, and remnant lipoprotein-cholesterol increased in untreated subjects, peaked at 2-4h, and returned to baseline at 8h, whereas low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels did not change. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids significantly suppressed postprandial elevation of triglycerides (incremental area under the curve=220±209 vs. 374±216mg/h/dL, P=0.04) and remnant lipoprotein-cholesterol (incremental area under the curve=21.7±13.8 vs. 13.3±12.9mg/h/dL, P=0.04). Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids significantly suppressed the increase in triglyceride content in chylomicrons as well as in very-low-density lipoproteins from baseline to 4h after the cookie test.

Conclusion: Omega-3 fatty acids significantly decreased postprandial triglyceride elevation and postprandial endothelial dysfunction, suggesting that omega-3 fatty acids may have vascular protective effects in postprandial state.

Keywords: Endothelial dysfunction; Omega-3 fatty acid; Triglyceride.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / adverse effects
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Fasting / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / blood*
  • Hyperlipidemias / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postprandial Period / drug effects*
  • Postprandial Period / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3