Fish Shaped Fish OilCRP is C-reactive protein. It is a globular protein; its levels increase in the presence of inflammation. When CRP levels are high, there is an increased risk for heart attack or stroke. A study appearing in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (epub ahead of print April 8, 2009) looked at omega-3 fatty acid levels and compared them to CRP levels in 124 adults. The study found that there was an inverse relationship between CRP levels and omega-3 fatty acid levels.

Another study, appearing in the journal Atherosclerosis (Volume 201, Issue 1, November 2008, Pages 184-191) looked at dietary intake of omega-3 fatty aicds and CRP levels in 14,191 subjects between the ages of 40 and 69 years. This study found that omega-3 fatty acid consumption was inversely associated with CRP levels. The authors concluded, “Sufficient dietary intake of n-3PUFA may attenuate inflammatory reaction and this effect is more evident among high-risk populations such as male smokers although the small numbers of female ex-smokers and nonsmokers limited statistical power to draw strong conclusions about these groups.” Similarly, research appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2006; 84(1): 223-9) and Nutritional Research (2008; 28(5): 309-14) also found an inverse relationship between omega-3 fatty acid consumption and CRP.

It makes sense. CRP is an indicator of low-grade, sustained inflammation. There is a large body of research establishing that omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. So it stands to reason that omega-3 fatty acid consumption should help to bring CRP levels under control.