Objective: To study the effects of moderate doses of fish oil on blood pressure and high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol.
Methods: The participants were 350 normotensive men and women aged 30-54 years who were enrolled from seven academic medical centers in phase I of the Trials of Hypertension Prevention. They were randomly assigned to receive placebo or 6 g purified fish oil once a day, which supplied 3 g n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for 6 months.
Results: Baseline blood pressure was (mean +/- SD) 123 +/- 9/81 +/- 5 mmHg. The mean differences in the blood pressure changes between the fish oil and placebo groups were not statistically significant. There was no tendency for fish oil to reduce blood pressure more in subjects with baseline blood pressure in the upper versus the lower quartile (132/87 versus 114/75 mmHg), low habitual fish consumption (0.4 versus 2.9 times a week) or low baseline plasma levels of n-3 fatty acids. Fish oil increased HDL2-cholesterol significantly compared with the placebo group. Subgroup analysis showed this effect to be significant in the women but not in the men. Increases in serum phospholipid n-3 fatty acids were significantly correlated with increases in HDL2-cholesterol and decreases in systolic blood pressure.
Conclusion: Moderate amounts of fish oil (6 g/day) are unlikely to lower blood pressure in normotensive persons, but may increase HDL2-cholesterol, particularly in women.