According to a recent study, increasing the consumption of foods high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3, may benefit those who have heart failure.
An omega-3 fatty acid primarily found in plants is called ALA. In the study, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, higher blood levels of ALA were associated with fewer fatalities and fewer first visits to the hospital for heart failure than lower levels. Flax, which may be purchased as seeds or oil and is frequently present in cereals, baked goods, and other items, is one of the greatest sources of plant-based omega-3s. Additionally beneficial sources include chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, soy products, canola oil, seaweed, edamame, and kidney beans.
“The most striking discovery,” says Aleix Sala-Vila, PHD, of the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain, “is the clear difference between patients in the bottom 25% — the lowest ALA levels — compared to the other 75%.”
The researchers examined blood samples from 905 people who had heart failure. A third of the population were women, and the average age was 67. After a two-year follow-up, 140 people passed away from all causes, 85 from cardiovascular illness, and 141 individuals were admitted to the hospital for the first time for heart failure.
According to the data, those with greater blood levels of ALA had a considerably lower risk of passing away or requiring a first-ever hospitalisation for heart failure.
According to Sala-Vila, more study is required to conclusively demonstrate whether increasing dietary ALA can improve heart failure outcomes. however for now, “Anyone, regardless of whether they have heart failure or not, may experience cardiovascular advantages by incorporating any ALA-rich foods like walnuts in their diet. One daily serving of walnuts has not been shown to have any negative effects, not even on weight gain.”
Often “Overlooked” is diet
The study’s results were deemed “promising” by JoAnn E. Manson, MD, DrPH, chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
She claims that an important component of sustaining good health, particularly heart health, is diet. “This study lends more credence to the idea that nutrition may have an impact on heart health, particularly heart failure. Although salt consumption is very essential, it has not recently received as much attention as some of these other dietary components.”
She points out that the study does not demonstrate that raising ALA blood levels will unquestionably improve the prognosis for heart failure.
“It’s possible that the foods causing this greater blood level of ALA are part of a plant-based diet like the Mediterranean diet, which has been associated to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The results could possibly be the consequence of other factors that weren’t properly taken into account throughout the analysis, or the study participants might have taken their drugs more consistently.”
However, she asserts that it is appropriate to advise those who have a history of heart failure or are at high risk to eat more ALA-enriched foods.
Everyone should adhere to a heart-healthy diet that includes lots of ALA, she continues.
Have a big salad or a few smaller ones every day, she suggests, and top them with some walnuts and canola or flaxseed oil. You will receive a significant daily ALA intake thanks to this.