High triglycerides are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and are often an early indicator of diabetes. C-reactive protein (CRP) is a globular protein that increases in the serum as a response to injury or inflammation. It turns out to be a good predictor for cardiovascular disease. High CRP levels are actually associated with increased mortality from all causes. A CRP level greater than 3 mg/L in men was found to increase the likelihood of death by nearly two-fold, according to research appearing in Clinical Chemistry (2008 Feb;54(2):335-42). A new study appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2010 Jan 20; e-published ahead of print) looked at 357 Eskimos and compared the levels of EPA and DHA (omega-3 fatty acids) and risk factors like CRP and triglycerides. Levels of omega-3 fatty acids were inversely associated with CRP and triglyceride levels. Also, high omega-3 levels were associated with higher HDL (“good cholesterol”) levels.

Most disease is the result of inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce inflammation. A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (2006; 91(2): 439-46) looked at levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the blood and the relationship to inflammation. There are substances found in blood that indicate how much inflammation is present. These inflammation “markers” include IL-6, IL-1ra and TNF alpha, C-reactive protein. Low levels of alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid found in flax oil), DHA (from fish oil) and EPA (from fish oil) were associated with high levels of inflammatory markers. The results of this study suggest that people with inflammatory conditions, like arthritis or asthma, should increase omega-3 fatty acids.