MONDAY, May 14, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- A combination of fish-oil supplements and exercise may help improve cardiovascular health more than either one alone, an Australian study suggests.
The study, published in this month's issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, included 75 overweight men and women, ages 25 to 65, who had at least one of the following cardiovascular risk factors -- mild hypertension, elevated total cholesterol, and elevated plasma triacylglycerols.
The volunteers were divided into groups that received either: 6 grams fish oil (including 260 milligrams docosahexaenoic acid and 60 milligrams eicosapentaenoic acid); 6 grams fish oil/day and an exercise regimen of 45 minutes of running or walking 3 times weekly; 6 grams sunflower oil (placebo)/day; or 6 grams sunflower oil/day and the exercise regimen.
The study found that the use of fish oil resulted in a larger decrease in plasma triacylglycerols, a larger increase in plasma HDL ("good") cholesterol, and greater improvement in flow-mediated vascular dilation (a healthy opening of the blood vessels) than the sunflower oil.
Exercise improved small artery flexibility, and both exercise and fish oil reduced fat mass.
The study confirms the findings of previous research that found that exercise and fish oil benefit cardiovascular health, the study authors said. They suggested that fish oil could be a useful adjunct to exercise programs designed to improve body composition. Further studies should be conducted to better understand how fish oil and exercise achieve this improvement.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers advice on how to keep your heart healthy.