Harvard Researchers Publish First Meta-Analysis on DHA, Cholesterol


A meta-analysis on DHA and cholesterol shows that consuming DHA-rich algae oil supplements may provide cardio support rivaling that from fish oil.

An up-to-date meta-analysis on DHA and cholesterol shows that consuming this omega-3 fatty acid-in the form of algae oil supplements-may provide cardio support rivaling that from fish oil. The January 1 issue of The Journal of Nutrition highlights a meta-analysis performed by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health-a meta-analysis deemed the first of its kind on algal DHA.

In reviewing 11 clinical trials (with a mean duration of six weeks) on nearly 500 healthy participants, researchers observed an average, statistically significant decrease in triglycerides and statistically significant increases in LDL and HDL cholesterol. Yes, an overall increase in LDL was observed, but that increase was accompanied by an increase in LDL particle size-something the researchers claim represents potentially “less-atherogenic LDL particles,” thus making for an overall cardiovascular benefit despite LDL increase.

Similar increases in LDL have been noted in recent fish oil meta-analyses, claim the researchers.

Martek Biosciences Corp. (Columbia, MD), a subsidiary of DSM Nutritional Products and manufacturer of Life’sDHA ingredients hailed the meta-analysis not just for the net benefits on cardio markers, but for an added effect had on subjects with triglyceride levels that were already elevated.

 “People get a sort of a floor effect with DHA,” said Martek chief scientific officer Norman Salem. “If you have normal triglyceride levels, it’s hard to lower them. DHA did significantly lower normal levels in these trials, but the effects were not huge-statistically significant, but not quantitatively huge. People with dyslipidemia had 25-30% reductions.”

Martek added that, in its own 2009 review of these clinical trials up-to-date, none of the trials showed any evidence of adverse health effects-not even fishy burps.

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