Vegetable oils found in leafy green vegetables, nuts and flaxseed reduce a woman’s risk of dying from heart disease, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.
The study, presented to a meeting of the American Heart Association, offers an alternative to women worried about getting mercury in fish and fish oil supplements that have also been shown to lower heart risk.
Dr. Christine Albert and colleagues at Harvard Medical School studied women taking part in the Nurses Health Study, in which 76,000 women have been having details of their lifestyles and health carefully monitored since 1984.
They looked at alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, in the women’s diets.
“In this study, we examined whether ALA was associated with a lower risk of dying from heart disease or sudden cardiac death, which is death resulting from an abrupt loss of heart function,” Albert said in a statement.
“During the 16 years of follow-up, women who had higher ALA intake had a significantly lower risk of dying from sudden cardiac death or coronary heart disease.”
More study is needed but the research supports other findings that have shown certain fatty acids - compounds found in various types of fat - can keep the heart beating normally, Albert said.
Revision date: July 9, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD