Omega-3 Fatty Acids Improve Damage in the Arteries of Smokers
Heart disease, among other chronic diseases, is often associated with a long history of smoking. This occurs as a complication of having a loss of elasticity in blood vessels, called arteries that lead to the heart.
Although the best way to avoid arterial hardening and heart disease is to stop smoking (according to the World Heart Federation, as well as other institutions like the World Health Organization), scientists have found evidence that fish oil supplements may help improve the physical damage on the arteries that results from the nicotine habit.
Omega-3 fatty acids are substances commonly found in fatty fish like mackerel, sardines and salmon, and plant sources like nuts. They are known to protect against heart disease by reducing the risk for atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) and preventing stroke.
The effects of taking large doses of fish oil supplements (2 grams per day) on the health of cigarette smokers were shown in study recently conducted in Greece. Dr. Gerasimos Siasos, from the University of Athens Medical School, found that short-term treatment with omega-3 fatty acids improves the acute smoking-induced loss of elasticity in the walls of arteries. This suggests that omega-3 fatty acids inhibit the harmful effects of smoking on arterial function, a risk factor for heart disease.
The cardioprotective effects of omega-3 fatty acids may be due to a combination of multiple, complex mechanisms involving anti-inflammatory and anti-atherosclerotic effects. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends that people without a history of coronary heart disease should consume a variety of fatty fish (rich in omega-3 fatty acids) at least two times a week.
World Heart Federation (2012, April 20). Omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce the physical harm caused by smoking. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 2, 2012.