Air pollution has already been shown to have a negative effect on heart health. Now a new pair of studies adds to the evidence.
According to research in Circulation Research, an American Heart Association journal, fine particulate matter air pollution may be associated with blood vessel damage and inflammation among young, healthy adults. And in a study published in the European Heart Journal, long-term exposure to air pollution is linked to a greater incidence of high blood pressure.
The Oils That Offer Pollution Protection
It’s certainly disheartening to know that the air we breathe may be putting our heart health in danger, but there is also recent research that reveals how fish oil and olive oil can help protect against the negative effects of air pollution.
In a study reported at a scientific meeting of the American Heart Association, researchers monitored the effect of fish oil or olive oil supplementation on healthy middle-aged adults exposed to short-term concentrated air pollution. The 29 participants in the study were given 3 grams daily of either fish oil or olive oil for a month, after which they were exposed to two hours of polluted air for two consecutive days.
Both fish oil and olive oil helped. Fish oil protected against disturbance of the autonomic nervous system and blood fats, while olive oil blunted adverse effects to the highly sensitive endothelial lining of blood vessels.
For years I have told patients to protect their cardiovascular systems from pollution by using air filters in their homes, since they can make a big difference. So, too, can fish oil and olive oil.
We know that one potential negative effect of pollution is disturbed heart rate variability (HRV), a measurement of the cardiac beat-to-beat flexibility. A disturbed (that is, more rigid) HRV means the heart has difficulty returning to a normal beat rhythm after exertion, a result of stress and flawed autonomic nervous system regulation of heart function. This research confirms what was previously known about fish oil’s ability to protect healthy HRV.
Now it’s your turn: Do you take fish oil supplements and cook with olive oil?