Protect Against Air Pollution with Fish Oil and Olive Oil

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Filed Under: Heart Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Protect Against Air Pollution with Fish Oil and Olive Oil

Over the years, many studies have shown how air pollution can harm cardiovascular function by impairing your lungs and stressing the heart. Now, a study reported at a scientific meeting of the American Heart Association revealed that fish oil and olive oil can help protect you from the negative effects of air pollution.

In the study, the 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, according to this new study.

We know that one potential negative effect of pollution is disturbed heart rate variability (HRV), 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 new study 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?

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