The researcher who led the study pointed out that millions of people live with and die from cardiovascular disease and that : "Many of these deaths may be prevented by the right lifestyle, including diet." Eating oily fish appears to be part of a healthy lifestyle. From Medical Xpress:
Eating oily fish may not only keep your heart healthy but it could actually help to fix damaged blood vessels faster, reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, University of Reading scientists have found. It is well known that these high in omega-3 fatty acid foods can improve the elasticity of blood vessels and potentially protect against heart disease.
However the reasons for these positive effects are less clear. This study tested two new emerging markers of cardiovascular disease that are of particular interest to researchers in the quest for answers.
The first was endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), stem cells made in the bone marrow that repair the linings of blood vessels when they become damaged. Previous studies associate a higher number of EPCs with a lower risk of heart disease. Over a period of eight weeks the researchers introduced small amounts (3 g per day) of fish oils to a volunteer group of people with mild risk of cardiovascular risk of a mixed age range. At the end of the eight weeks this study group increased their EPCs numbers by up to 15% compared to a control group.
The second marker, endothelial microparticles (EMPs), are tiny circular vesicles which are shed when the lining of blood vessels is damaged. High numbers of these indicates a high degree of blood vessel damage and are associated with higher risk of heart disease. At the end of the trial, the group consuming the oily fish decreased EMPs by 20% compared to the control group.
"Fish oil is known to increase the release of nitric oxide from the lining of the blood vessel wall which causes relaxation of the vessel and increases blood flow. Our study shows that fish oils could be better for our heart in more ways than previously thought, decreasing damage to the lining of blood vessels and by increasing the numbers of cells which repair those linings.