CRP is C-reactive protein; it is a globular protein that increases when there is tissue damage or inflammation. Elevated CRP is associated with an increased risk for heart disease. It is also associated with an increased risk for death from other causes. Research appearing in Clinical Chemistry (2008 Feb;54(2):335-42) verifies this. CRP is also associated with depression, cognitive decline and stroke, according to a meta-analysis of 19 studies appearing in Lancet Neurology (2005; 4(6): 371-380).

Omega-3 fatty acid consumption may play a role in lowering CRP levels. In the journal, Nutrition Research (2008; 28(5):309-14), a cross-sectional study involving over 440 Japanese women found that dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids was inversely proportional to CRP levels.

Diet may well affect CRP levels. A study appearing in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism (2006; 50(1): 20-4) examined the serum CRP (as well as lipid levels and other markers) after subjects ate a Mediterranean type of meal. Eighty men, with no health problems consumed a Mediterranean meal (1,000 calories, 61% of the fat was monounsaturated). On another occasion they ate a typical Western diet (1,000 calories with 57% of the fat being saturated fat). The change in blood levels was compared to changes made after eating a more typical Western diet. Increase in blood lipids and blood sugar were similar, but the CRP was lower after the Mediterranean meal. The Mediterranean meal also increased carotenoids (plant antioxidants and vitamin A precursors) and human serum paraoxonase (also called PON1—it can protect low density lipoprotein (LDL) from oxidation).

Dietary fiber may also help to lower CRP levels, according to research appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2006; 83(4): 760-6). Supplementation may also help lower CRP levels. Research appearing in the European Journal of Nutrition (2007 May 3; Epub ahead of print) found that magnesium supplementation lowered CRP levels in patients with heart failure. Research appearing in Free Radical Biology and Medicine (2008 Oct 10; Epub ahead of print) found that vitamin C supplementation reduced CRP levels in 396 healthy subjects. Vitamin E, on the other hand, did not have this effect.

Since CRP is an inflammatory marker, it stands to reason that things that reduce inflammation should have a favorable effect on levels. Dietary changes that favor a reduction in inflammation should be valuable, no matter what therapy is being undertaken.