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Plant-Based Omega-3 Shows Significant Heart-Health Benefits

The health benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) derived from cold-water fatty fish and krill have been well documented. Research has shown that they can ease symptoms of arthritis, improve cardiovascular outcomes, and may help reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Clinical research involving omega-3 supplements, however, has produced mixed results, at least partially because of issues with absorption. Producing plant-based versions of these essential fats has also been problematic, as the most common sources, such as chia and flax seed, contain only ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which is a precursor to EPA and DHA. While the body can convert ALA into EPA and DHA, the process is “unreliable and restricted.”

Recently, however, a vegetarian source of EPA known as AlmegaPL®, which is derived from the microalgae Nannochloropsis., has shown a unique ability to overcome these challenges. Not only has it proven to be highly absorbable, it has also been shown in two different clinical trials to improve cardiovascular disease risk factors better than fish or krill oils.


The Study

In the first study, which was published in 2020 in the journal Nutrients, researchers recruited 120 healthy men and women over the age of 25. At enrollment, participants provided a baseline blood sample and measures were taken of their body composition, dietary intake, mood, sleep quality, quality of life, and fatigue. They were then randomly divided into two groups. The first group received either 1 gram of AlmegaPL® standardized to contain 250 mg of EPA or a placebo each day for 12 weeks and the baseline measurements were repeated at the midpoint and endpoint of the study.

After completion of the 12-week program, the supplement group showed significantly increased omega-3 index and serum EPA concentrations than the placebo group. Participants who received AlmegaPL® also saw their very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) levels decrease by 25%, which resulted in a significant decrease in total cholesterol compared to placebo. Furthermore, this decrease in VLDL was not accompanied by a corresponding increase in LDL, which is a unique benefit associated with EPA-only formulas. As such, the researchers concluded that AlmegaPL® “provides a natural EPA-only option to increase EPA and manage cholesterol levels in the general population.”

In the second study, which was published in February 2024 in Frontiers in Nutrition, researchers wanted to test the supplement’s effectiveness under real-world conditions. They recruited 292 healthy men and women from a database of AlmegaPL® users from across the country. Upon enrollment, participants provided a baseline fasting blood sample for analysis and were instructed to take one 1,000 mg capsule of AlmegaPL (standardized to contain at least 250 mg EPA) each day for six months. They then provided additional blood samples at the midpoint and endpoint of the study.

In addition to confirming the cholesterol-lowering benefits observed in the previous research, analysis of the results also showed that AlmegaPL® decreased serum triglyceride levels by 14.2%, a response equivalent to 4 times the results typically reported from other sources of omega-3s.



“This is the second clinical trial that supports the use of AlmegaPL® to promote cardiovascular health in a generally healthy adult population,” the researchers wrote in their conclusion, noting that the supplement is the only natural source of EPA-only omega-3s currently available. This is important because EPA without DHA seems to confer unique heart-health benefits.

The researchers wrote, “as EPA is emerging as the leading [omega-3 fatty acid] for the treatment of [cardiovascular disease] in diseased patients, these clinical trials provide strong evidence for AlmegaPL® supplementation to support cardiometabolic health.”






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