Research Paper Review

Blood fatty acid changes in healthy young Americans in response to a 10-week diet that increased n-3 and reduced n-6 fatty acid consumption: a randomized controlled trial
Andrew Young et al.
British Journal of Nutrition
May 2017
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This group of researchers set out to try to revamp military food – wanting to swap the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. A traditional diet had military personnel under-consuming omega-3s and over-consuming omega-6s. They wanted to turn that on its head.

This was a randomized, controlled study, so the participants were put into 3 different groups, not knowing which one they were in. They thought they received all the same food – meals and a smoothie – but the composition was different.

  1. Control group – had the same food as before; no changes to meals from the US Military’s Standard 28-day Garrison Dining Facility Menu.
  2. Moderate group – had food that looked the same, but anytime there were foods that were high in omega-6 and low in omega-3s, they would use substitute ingredients to swap this ratio. Foods like chicken, beef, tuna, eggs, oils were replaced with higher omega-3 versions, typically grass-fed varieties of chicken and beef that were certified to have a higher linoleic acid content than traditional sources. Tuna packed in soybean oil was swapped with tuna packed in olive oil.
  3. High group – had the same food substitutions mentioned above, but also received 1,000 mg omega-3 supplement daily through a smoothie.

71 participants finished the study, both men and women, young (average age 28) and healthy. Blood tests were taken initially, at week 5 and week 10. They also took body measurements, but their goal was not to lose weight – so if weight changed they adjusted food accordingly. They also monitored the participants’ mood and emotional state.

Among the many measurements reported, they included measurement of the Omega-3 Index (you can also measure with D*action+Omega-3). This is a measurement of Omega-3 fatty acids in red blood cells, seen as a percentage. The recommended level is above 8%, but other studies have shown that the average American’s Omega-3 Index is less than 4%.

The average Omega-3 Index at the start for all groups was a little over 3%. The moderate group rose in 5 weeks but was not statistically higher at 10 weeks. The high group kept climbing and almost got to the recommended level of 8%.

There were no significant changes to other blood readings such as total cholesterol or lipids. In addition, no changes to mood or emotional state. The participants tolerated the food well and it was reported that these substitutions would be feasible to make on a grander scale with little-added cost.

You can measure your Omega-3 Index today with D*action+Omega-3. Then, if needed, implement a new food program and measure again in 2-3 months similar to this study. You too can take charge of your health!

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