The evidence for α-Linolenic acid and cardiovascular disease benefits

Comparisons with eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid

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47 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Our understanding of the cardiovascular disease (CVD) benefits of a-linolenic acid (ALA, 18:3n-3) has advanced markedly during the past decade. It is now evident that ALA benefits CVD risk. The expansion of the ALA evidence base has occurred in parallel with ongoing research on eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) and CVD. The available evidence enables comparisons to be made for ALA vs. EPA + DHA for CVD risk reduction. The epidemiologic evidence suggests comparable benefits of plant-based and marinederived n-3 (omega-3) PUFAs. The clinical trial evidence for ALA is not as extensive; however, there have been CVD event benefits reported. Those that have been reported for EPA + DHA are stronger because only EPA + DHA differed between the treatment and control groups, whereas in the ALA studies there were diet differences beyond ALA between the treatment and control groups. Despite this, the evidence suggests many comparable CVD benefits of ALA vs. EPA + DHA. Thus, we believe that it is time to revisit what the contemporary dietary recommendation should be for ALA to decrease the risk of CVD. Our perspective is that increasing dietary ALA will decrease CVD risk; however, randomized controlled clinical trials are necessary to confirm this and to determine what the recommendation should be. With a stronger evidence base, the nutrition community will be better positioned to revise the dietary recommendation for ALA for CVD risk reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)863S-876S
JournalAdvances in Nutrition
Volume5
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

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alpha-Linolenic Acid
Eicosapentaenoic Acid
Docosahexaenoic Acids
eicosapentaenoic acid
linolenic acid
docosahexaenoic acid
cardiovascular diseases
Cardiovascular Diseases
dietary recommendations
risk reduction
Risk Reduction Behavior
Control Groups
randomized clinical trials
clinical trials
Randomized Controlled Trials
Clinical Trials
nutrition
Diet

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

Cite this

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title = "The evidence for α-Linolenic acid and cardiovascular disease benefits: Comparisons with eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid",
abstract = "Our understanding of the cardiovascular disease (CVD) benefits of a-linolenic acid (ALA, 18:3n-3) has advanced markedly during the past decade. It is now evident that ALA benefits CVD risk. The expansion of the ALA evidence base has occurred in parallel with ongoing research on eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) and CVD. The available evidence enables comparisons to be made for ALA vs. EPA + DHA for CVD risk reduction. The epidemiologic evidence suggests comparable benefits of plant-based and marinederived n-3 (omega-3) PUFAs. The clinical trial evidence for ALA is not as extensive; however, there have been CVD event benefits reported. Those that have been reported for EPA + DHA are stronger because only EPA + DHA differed between the treatment and control groups, whereas in the ALA studies there were diet differences beyond ALA between the treatment and control groups. Despite this, the evidence suggests many comparable CVD benefits of ALA vs. EPA + DHA. Thus, we believe that it is time to revisit what the contemporary dietary recommendation should be for ALA to decrease the risk of CVD. Our perspective is that increasing dietary ALA will decrease CVD risk; however, randomized controlled clinical trials are necessary to confirm this and to determine what the recommendation should be. With a stronger evidence base, the nutrition community will be better positioned to revise the dietary recommendation for ALA for CVD risk reduction.",
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