According to a new study, omega-3 fatty acid supplements may be able to help seniors maintain good heart health. Conducted at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and published in the journal Physiological Reports, the study found that healthy seniors who took omega-3 supplements significantly decreased the stiffness of their arteries.
Cardiovascular health is particularly important for seniors, because even if a person doesn't develop heart disease, they will still experience some stiffening of the arteries and decreased functioning of the cardiovascular system as they age. One of the most commonly employed ways of measuring arterial stiffness is called the pulse wave velocity index (PWV). PWV is a measurement of how quickly blood moves through the arteries. Higher numbers represent stiffer arteries, which can lead to health problems later on.
The researchers recruited healthy participants between the ages of 60 and 80. They were given two omega-3 supplement capsules twice daily for 12 weeks. At the end of this period, the subjects all had significantly decreased PWV, indicating that their arteries had become less stiff. This suggests that omega-3 supplementation may be able to reverse some of the natural effects of cardiovascular aging.
"These findings provide support for the concept that increased omega-3 intake may be an efficacious therapy in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in aging humans through effects on central arterial stiffness," the researchers wrote. "These effects occurred over a relatively short period of time."
To get enough omega-3s, make a habit of eating fatty fish like salmon, or add a fish oil supplement to your daily diet.