Prepared Foods July 4, 2005 enewsletter

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) significantly lowered triglycerides and decreased harmful small, dense LDL "bad" cholesterol particles in men and women with below average HDL "good" cholesterol levels, according to study results published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Sponsored by Martek, the double-blind, placebo controlled study involved 57 men and women supplemented with either 1.5g of Martek's algal DHA or placebo daily for six weeks. Triglycerides were lowered in the DHA group by 21% -- a statistically significant amount when compared to the response in the placebo group. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) or "good cholesterol" also increased, but it was not statistically significant when compared to placebo. C-reactive protein was not tested in this study.

The DHA group also had a dramatic redistribution of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) or "bad cholesterol," shifting from the small, dense LDL particles believed to contribute significantly to the development of plaques in arteries, toward large, buoyant LDL particles, which are believed to be less harmful. The fraction of LDL cholesterol carried by small, dense particles declined by 10%, when compared to placebo. Consistent with other studies, the DHA-supplemented group experienced a modest, but statistically significant, increase in the concentration of LDL cholesterol.

"I was very encouraged to see that DHA caused a significant decline in the proportion of cholesterol carried by the most harmful, small, dense LDL particles. This could be a part of the explanation for the heart benefits observed in long-term studies with omega-3 fatty acid supplements," said the study's lead investigator Dr. Kevin C. Maki of Provident Clinical Research in Chicago, Ill. (formerly with Radiant Research, where the study was conducted).